This 1890s to 1918 photographic legacy of the Harvard Community held by the Ayers Library makes it possible for us to see the faces of some of the last Shakers and the built environment as the last Harvard Shakers saw it. In particular we get a glimpse of the physical condition of their community before its sale to Fiske Warren in 1918.
By no means the only photos taken of the Harvard Shaker community in its final years, this body of photographic evidence holds a special place in that it was created through the eyes of the Shaker’s neighbors with whom they had family, personal, or business connections.
When we consider that in the last thirty years of the Harvard Society’s existence that there were only a few Shakers left to document the life of the community, and of those only two or three wrote down anything of substance, these photos supplement that meager written record with a visual narrative. That is especially true of the North Family for which we have virtually no written records. In all, they give an incomplete but valuable view of the Harvard Shaker Village and some of its inhabitants during its final years.
American Communal Societies Quarterly
Available for download on Tuesday, April 01, 2025