Student Research Projects

Marriage Forms of the Shakers, Mormons, and Oneida Community in the 19th Century

Student Kelly Fauth
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Religious Studies
Course Independent Study


During the 19th century numerous religious subcultures formed out of new and different religious belief systems. Among the most prominent of the new religious communities were the Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida community. All three communities originated in the northeast and had many practices and beliefs which ran counter to the mainstream culture at that time. A practice which affected every aspect of these communities was their specific forms of marriage which all differed greatly from the traditional didactic marriage. The establishment of these marriage forms coincided with the rise of new religious belief systems all led by powerful, charismatic people. The success or failure of the communities depended mainly on the acceptance of these marriage forms by the larger society. The larger society had the power to approve of or destroy each of these religious subcultures. The one community that survived most successfully, the Mormons, did so only because the Mormon Church conformed to the wishes of the mainstream society and thus the larger culture’s approval allowed the Mormon Church to continue into the 21st century. Conversely, the Shaker and Oneida communities, respectively, dwindled to a small number and dissolved completely.