The Brook Farm Utopia

By Kate Carpenter and Graciela Rayome

Brook Farms, located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The Transcendentalists Club, which was the group that founded Brook Farms. The co-founder and main leader of the group, George Ripley, is seated on the far right.

The majority of the women of Brook Farms can be seen in this photograph.

Brook Farms as it is today.

George Ripley in his later years.

George Ripley was a transcendentalist who wanted to create a community where people were allowed the full ability of "self-realization". Starting out as a preacher, he left his parish to create a society that would value truth and faithfulness above all else; this idea of his would become Brook Farm. In his utopia, he wanted to allow the people to have enough leisure time  to develop the individual and to have the health benefits from working to connect the mind and the body. Famous American Romantics and transcendentalists praised the project such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The project was officially born on October 11th, 1841, and was funded by leasing shares of the settlement to stockholders. At first, many people were attracted to the community because of their radical viewpoints on their ideas and the spreading of the written constitution. Over time, Ripley became more and more involved with the Fourier movement, which began pushing the community towards more and more moral stringency. Over time, the community slowly dissolved as  the ideas of individual freedom and living in a communal society began to conflict; as the final straw, a great fire consumed the main building of the Farm and the project unofficially died a few months after that due to lack of both funds, participants, and enthusiasm.

This was a radical movement because this was one of the earliest experiments in communal living in America, and though this experiment failed, others like Robert Owen with the New Harmony settlement still formed other experimental communities.  


Primary- The Constitution of the Brook Farm Association, class room source

Charles Lane, "The Dial", January 1844

Georgina Bruce Kriby, "Years of Experience: an Autobiographical Narrative" 1887


Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography

Map of Brook Farm

Pictures of George Ripley

Picture of Brook Farms today

Transcendentalist ideas- Social Reform

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