Thaddeus Sheldon Papers

What's online?

The entire collection is scanned and online.

What’s in the entire collection?

This collection consists mostly of correspondence; speeches; meeting minutes and financial statements of the Harmonia organization, and papers on various subjects such as education, the future of America, and sacred matrimony (frequently delivered as addresses to the group). These papers document the activities of a mid-nineteenth century utopian group which combined its philosophy, socialism, and ideas about spiritualism.

Many of the documents are addresses and essays written by Spiritualist John Murray Spear (1804-1887) on a wide range of topics, such as education, human relations, and government. Some of Spear's correspondence is also part of the collection.

Several of the papers, as well as letters, written in 1863, decry the institution of slavery and question whether the Civil War could force a union based on freedom. Additionally, scattered papers from 1861 through 1865 reveal the group's interest in perfecting and selling sewing machines.

About About the Harmonia community

The nineteenth century utopian community of Harmonia, located in the valley of Kiantone Creek, situated on the border between New York and Pennsylvania, was known variously as Harmonia, the Association of Beneficents, The Sacred Order of Unionists, and The Domain. This group of spiritualists "believed that the great men and women of earlier ages were guiding them toward the realization of a new social order. Some of their ideas included a perpetual motion machine, the curing of disease by 'magnetic waters,' world federalism, feminine emancipation, marriage reform, and the manufacture of sewing machines." The leader of the Kiantone Harmonia was John Murray Spear, a Universalist minister, and later, a spiritualist.

Harmonia was interested in practical ideas as well as idealistic plans for a utopian world with reforms in government, education, business, and marriage. Views on education, for example, describe a progressive theory which recommends the use of field trips and laboratory experiments, and advocates the education of women on an equal basis with men.

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