Experimental Communities in 19th Century America


The History of the Great Lakes States website has a number of books and articles about experimental communities. Most were based on community property rather than private property. Some were religious; some secular.



Click on the page name to open it in a new tab, and you’ll find the recommended works there. They are listed alphabetically, by author.
For tips on reading online and downloading, see the note at the bottom of this page.


Ohio Social History page

Baillie, William, Josiah Warren, The First American Anarchist; A Sociological Study (1906)

McKinley, Kenneth William, “A Guide to Communistic Communities of Ohio” (1937)

Randall, E. O., “The Separatist Society of Zoar: An Experiment in Communism – From its Commencement to its Conclusion” (1899)


Indiana Social History page

Bakken, Dawn E., ““A Full Supply of the Necessaries and Comforts of Life”: The Owenite Community of Blue Spring, Indiana” (2011)

Bestor, Arthur E., Education and Reform at New Harmony: Correspondence of William Maclure and Marie Duclos Fretageot, 1820-1833 (1948)

Denehie, Elizabeth Smith, “The Harmonist Movement in Indiana” (1923)

Elliot, Helen, “Frances Wright’s Experiment with Negro Emancipation” (1939)

Lockwood, George B., The New Harmony Movement (1905)


Michigan Social History page

Barber, Edward W., “The Vermontville Colony: Its Genesis and History, with Personal Sketches of the Colonists” (1900)


Wisconsin Social History page

McIntosh, Montgomery Eduard, “Cooperative Communities in Wisconsin” (1904)


Ohio Religion page

MacLean, J. P., “Origin, Rise, Progress and Decline of the Whitewater Community of Shakers, Located in Hamilton County, Ohio” (1904)

Youngs, Benjamin Seth, “An Expedition against the Shakers” (1912)


Illinois Local History page

Flower, George, History of the English Settlement in Edwards County, Illinois founded in 1817 and 1818 by Morris Birkbeck and George Flower (1909)


Indiana Fiction page

Snedeker, Caroline D., Seth Way (1917)



Tips for Reading Online and Downloading

More than half the books on our website at History of the Great Lakes States are hosted by Internet Archive or Open Library. They are sister organizations and use the same online viewer application. In most cases this viewer will give you nearly perfect text if you;

1. switch from the double-page to the single-page view by using the icons in the bottom right corner, and;

2. Keep zooming in until the text snaps into a clear focus.

Using the single-page view allows you to scroll pages down with your mouse wheel.

You can download books from these two sites by clicking on the book name at the top-left corner of the page (in the viewer) to get to the download menu.

To receive links to free history articles and resources every day in your Twitter or Facebook feeds, follow:

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