The Shakers are known for their simplicity of design, especially in their furniture and artifacts. This is also true of their drawings and songs. When they were discovered by Edward Deming and Faith Andrews in the 1930s, the drawings were unknown to the outside world, having been hidden away for many years by Shaker elders and eldresses. Unfortunately, by that time countless drawings had already been discarded by the Shakers.
Most Shaker drawings were received during the Era of Manifestations, also known as “Mother’s Work,” between the late 1830s and 1850s. Both Andrews and Patterson believe that many drawings were received during this time and then discarded when the Era of Manifestations had ended. While it remains puzzling why some were discarded and some not, fortunately there are two drawings which have survived and contain music notation within a leaf design. These are termed leaf songs. Both were received in 1839 and were drawn within one month of each other. They are the only known examples of this type of leaf drawing with music.