In the communal Massachusetts society known as Hopedale, existing formally from 1841 to 1856, women were granted an extraordinary range of rights comparable to those enjoyed by men, including holding office, owning property, and enjoying civil protection even within marriage. Women played a major role in civic engagement and intellectual life. The progressive role for women’s rights took place among a group of people who, unlike inhabitants of contemporary Fruitlands and Brook Farm utopian experiments, were described by Hopedale Community head Adin Ballou as “poor, and comparatively unlearned.” Vestiges of community values were perceptible a century later long after the original Hopedale Community had morphed into a paternalistic village whose economy until about 1960 was centered upon the Draper Corporation, successful manufacturer of textile looms, an enterprise that ended with the collapse of the northern textile industry.

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