Saturday, January 24, 2009

Church Record Sunday: The Oneida Community

One of my purposes in starting Church Record Sunday is that I believe that religion impacted our ancestor's lives. I believe that learning about your ancestor's religion and researching religious records can benefit your family history research greatly. I also wanted to include records of religions/denominations that may not be mainstream-in fact they may not even exist today.

Today, I am going to provide some links for records from the Oneida Community. You may be familiar with Oneida as a silverware company. This company was a result of the breakup of the religious group and their forming a joint-stock company. The Oneidians were industrious and one of the outgrowths of this was the present day silverware company.

The Oneida Community was a 19th century Utopian American religion founded by John Humphrey Noyes. Noyes theology was based on Perfectionism, which include self-perfection and communalism. The Oneida Community never had a large number of members, right before the breakup of the group in 1878, there were 306 members.

The Oneida Community was a communal group and had some ‘different’ ideas about marriage and relations between men and women. Suffice it to say, these ideas would have been risque for the time period. The Oneidas challenged a lot of the ideas of their time and were and still would be controversial for some of their beliefs and practices having to do with marriage, relationships and children. One of their more progressive ideas was the equality of women.

The Oneida Community mansion house, located in Oneida, New York is a museum and includes historical displays, A short history of the community can be found here If you want to know more about Oneida Silverware and its history, check out this website,

A digitized manuscript collection can be found at the Syracuse Library Digitized Projects at Their website states that they believe they have the largest collection of documents,. etc having to do with the Oneida Community. Digitized items on this website include finding aids, publications, and photographs.

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