The Oneida Experiment

by Scott S. Dale

Date : 20 May 1870

The United States is in the midst of one of the greatest developments, yet there are cases where the success of some people comes at the expense of others’ hardships.  The Oneida Community was founded in 1848 by John Noyes who intended to establish a community with free love and equal opportunity for all people— not just white men.  It has truly merited the nickname, “Village of Cooperation.”Furthermore, the Oneida Community provides the greatest socio economic growth while maintaining equal opportunity.

To maintain this ideal society, many see this time of change as an opportunity to sculpt new religions.  For example, there are the Latter Day Saints, known as Mormons, who believe in the Oneida Experiment.  To ensure the legacy of Oneida be everlasting, the Mormons set forth, guided by Brigham Young, to establish their ideal society in Salt Lake City, Utah, a mere 12,000 miles from Oneida, New York.  The Latter Day Saints’ ideal Utopia continues to be an embodiment of the Oneida Community.  Utopia itself is a term used to describe the perfect society where everybody— not just men— are equal.  This also includes free love, allowing and encouraging all forms of non-sexual love, including polygamy.  Many consider this idea, “too unorthodox”3, especially with monogamy being discouraged.  In monogamy, especially here today, the man is typically in complete control of the woman, something Oneida does not believe.  These callings for complete equality, especially in the workplace, have inspired a plethora of additional utopian societies, such as Oneida, to form.

The Oneida Community has been extremely successful throughout practice thus far.  After its founding, “for the next 30 years Oneida flourished.  The community, which in the early years numbered about 200 persons, earned a precarious existence by farming and logging.”4 , even where “women worked alongside men”5, the Oneida Community has witnessed immediate economic growth and success even while employing males and females simultaneously.  These fundamental experiments to improving the rights of women are allowing for greater economic growth as a result.  Oneida, while famous for developing a strong economy that preached equality in the workplace, has also built a strong reputation for steel traps, which are considered to be “the best in the land” and “the basis of a thriving group of industrial enterprises that include silverware, embroidered silks, and canned fruit”6. 000 

Oneida has proven beneficiary for our country’s economic growth and their incorporation of equal employment and opportunity is a tremendous breakthrough.

Before the Brook Farm Experiment women would seldom protest for equal treatment.  A new religion that formed, dubbed the Shakers, “were dissenters from the dominant values of American Society and were associated with many of the reform movements of the 19th century, including feminism.”7  The Shakers, like many others, strongly believe in the development of feminism and equal rights throughout the Oneida Society.  As stated by Susan Hamilton, author of “Communism, Women’s Best Friend”, “what [is] really wanted [is] to be able to establish mutually satisfying relations between the sexes”8.  Despite having limited rights in society, women feel empowered, now protesting for their rights to live alongside men, like in the Oneida Community.  Additionally, the Seneca Falls Convention, a women’s rights movement, occurred simultaneously with the establishment of the Brook Hill Experiment, showing the best is yet to come for our women.  After all, the goals of the Brook Hill Experiment are to prove the value that women have while working alongside men.  

The Oneida Community has proven itself successful, and has set the groundwork for how our society is to be run.  Furthermore, the Oneida Community has the greatest source of steel traps; used for the making of silverware and other household materials.  Brook Hill has free love, despite the unorthodox viewpoint most conservative Christians have.  Last but not least, Brook Hill has given women the opportunity to succeed at the same level as men— not just in a subsidized state.  The future for everyone is now certainly within reach.



  1. Alan Brinkley, An Unfinished Nation; a Concise History of the American People. New York: McGraw Hill 2014, Print.
  2. ibid.
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica (1998). Oneida Community. Web. from,
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.
  6. ibid.
  7. Virginia Commonwealth University. Shakers – A Utopian Community: Founded in U.S. 1776 Web. from,
  8. Susan C. Hamilton, “Communism, Woman’s Best Friend”, The Circular (27 May 1854), 298.

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