Oneida Community

The Oneida Community

The Oneida community was the outcast of colonial society. Their beliefs in complex marriage, a life free of sin, and communalism challenged popular opinions. The founder, John Noyes, was under severe prosecution. As ideas such as mutual criticism grew, so did the scrutiny. In the area of government of the Oneida Community there were twenty-one standing committees and forty-eight administrative departments. This organization covered every conceivable activity and interest from hair-cutting and dentistry to education and silk- manufacture. Its religious beliefs were its main source of criticism. The group worshipped the idea of polygamy along with criticizing every member of the community, yet Noyes contradicted himself by not allowing the community to criticize himself, the leader. The community also practiced ideals of male continence where they would not have to worry about their female counterparts' pregnancies. The communities abnormal beliefs put a cap on the possible growth, and easily opened them to prosecution.

This song was written by the Oneida Community, and is considered as the hymn of the commune. The song is mentioning the existence of Eden on earth, which would be built by the community itself. It refers to the main principles of Oneida: True love through “Complex Marriage”; and being “one” it means altogether in a sharing community living in one home.

The Oneida Community, 1860

John Humphrey Noyes, with arms crossed, stands in right foreground. Around 1860, the Oneida Community was already well established and counted more than one thousand members. The picture shows that the Male Continence was a great success; there are few children and a majority of adults.

Primary Source

                                            Confession of Religious Experience

"THE practice of relating one's own religious experience, which is common among all the more spiritual denominations, is as ancient at least as Christianity, and is countenanced by the example of Paul, who constantly defended himself before the tribunals of the Jews and Romans, by giving an account of his religious life, his early zeal for J)1daism, and his subsequent conversion to Christianity. - It may be said in favor of auto-biography in general, that as each individual is better acquainted with his own private history than any other man can be, each is best qualified, and has the best right (other things being equal) to tell his own story, if his story needs or deserves to be, told. And especially in the case of religious experience, which is less open to foreign observation than any other, it is proper and necessary, if this most valuable kind of history is to be preserved at all, that each one should give account of himself."

- John Humphrey Noyes


The Oneida Community was a religious commune founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 in Oneida, New York. In the Confession of Religious Experience, a manifestation written by the founder of the Oneida Community, consists of an account of the causes and process of his conversion to Perfectionism in 1884. Additionally, it's comprised of an account of the principal events in his religious life, from that period until his history became identified with that of the Putney Community, in 1838.

Fun Facts

- The Oneida Community dissolved in 1881, and eventually became the giant silverware company Oneida Limited.

-Anti-Social withdrawal and masterbation were considered issues in the community and led to later problems.

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