About

On  June 26, 2010,  Victoria Carver & Frank Christopher moved into apartment #255 in the Tontine section of the Oneida Community Mansion House  ~ the former home of approximately 300 Bible Communists who created the Oneida Community (1848-1880), one of the most controversial religious communities in American history.  Members of the Oneida Community created a social system that banished private property, marriage and exclusive emotional and sexual relations.

We are recording our experiences living in the Mansion House with this blog.  Our goal is to write scripts and proposals, and design interactive experiences on the Web.

In the process, we will also present “posts” from our cast of characters ~  their own words recorded in diaries, letters and personal writings recounting their struggles to live according to the principles of this 19th Century religious community.

This experience of living and working in the Mansion House will provoke us to rethink our ideas about marriage and sex, community and religion past and present.

16 Comments

  1. Naida Grunden said,

    July 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Frank, this is a wonderful venture about a sect I knew nothing about. I hope this results in another PBS series. I’m reading every word with great interest!

  2. SilverSeason said,

    December 23, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I am happy to find your blog. I am a long-time student of the Community and the resulting Oneida silver company. I have just posted a page about it at my blog: http://silverseason.wordpress.com/american-silverplate/oneida-community-collectibles/

  3. ageer370 said,

    January 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you for your comments regarding my page/paper concerning women and the Oneida community; I’m especially happy to be able to connect with your great blog. What a rewarding experience–uniting the past and the present in such an artful and informative manner. Best thoughts in the New Year.

  4. February 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

    This is a great exploration. In a world where contemporary American society exalts sameness and conformity, it is nice to be reminded of past experiments in the search for spiritual and cultural fulfillment. We have a richer past than many folks realize and although most of these societies peter out over time, they often explore fundamental issues of human nature and society. Perhaps we would do well to have students more actively explore these situations and their ultimate impact on contemporary society and mores, rather than leave history merely to the celebration of war and conquest, and the rich and famous.

  5. Stephanie Saxon said,

    March 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    We studied the Oneida Community as part of an American History class at the University of Delaware. We thought it was a little bizarre.
    Imagine my surprize, some years later, to find out that I am a BLOOD RELATIVE of these folks! [John Langdon Skinner – Harriet’s husband -was my 3rd great grand uncle.] Ack!
    But, in turn, I have become more interested in the comings and goings of these folks. I’m pleased to see the Mansion House is being used and not in ruins. I’d love to see more photos on here! ~Cheers!

    • tontine 255 said,

      March 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Hi Stephanie

      Thanks for your comment. We are friends with some of you relatives who live here in the Mansion House. Would you like me to send you email contacts?

      Best wishes,
      Frank

      • Stephanie Saxon said,

        March 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        I’ve heard from Cindy already, but if there are others, that’s great! [Genealogy leads to all kinds of before-unknown relatives & it’s great!]

    • Kristi said,

      May 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      JL Skinner is my 3rd great grandfather, too. I grew up going to Oneida and the Mansion House, and never thought too much about it until I became an adult. It is kind of an odd chapter in history, but one that is very rich in history and genealogy.

  6. Amy Vail said,

    March 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    What a fine idea! I shall check in regularly to see what’s up at the Mansion House. I have visited several times, and read everything I could about the Community. It would be wonderful to hear what life is like there now. I once lived in a crazy old castle in England; much of the place was uninhabited and uninhabitable, but the grad students and artists who lived in the habitable parts were as lively and eccentric a community as one might wish for. I like to imagine living at the Mansion House is a bit like that.

  7. April 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Dear Victoria Carver & Frank Christopher:

    I just discovered your wonderful blog. I am the editor of The Oneida Daily Dispatch and I would like to link to it on our blogs page:
    http://www.oneidadispatch.com/blogs/
    I am attempting to gather a list of the best blogs in the area. There would, of course, be no charge, and I’m sure we can help other people find your excellent site. Please let me know.

    – Kurt

  8. Dan Sawyer said,

    April 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Victoria & Frank: best of luck with this fascinating project. Your blog is more like an informative book than a typical chatty blog.

  9. Eliot Smith Orton said,

    May 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    As a student of history and a descendant of the Community, I have read with interests your posts. I shall check this site regularly. Keep up the good work.

    Cot

  10. June 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    This is amazing. I’ve long been fascinated by the Oneida Community, and in alternative marriage. Thanks for putting this project out there!

  11. Burt Noyes said,

    October 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Excellent site! The Oneida Community has been a special interest of mine over the years and the diary excerpts are tremendous.

  12. John Guerrasio said,

    August 4, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I’m so glad to have stumbled across this blog. I’ve been a student/fan of Oneida for many decades and have spent afternoons at the NYC library pouring over The Berean. I think Oneida is one of the most fascinating chapters in American history. I visited The Mansion House in ’91 and hope to revisit sometime soon.

  13. John Guerrasio said,

    August 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I have just read Seek-No-Further by Constance Noyes Robertson. It is a very entertaining novel set at Oneida. Robertson created a composite commune based on many 19th century models but her composite and the personalities depicted are transparently John and Theodore Noyes and Oneida.

    Perhaps because she wrote in 1938, Robertson chose to focus on spiritualism rather than complex marriage. In fact, her Oneida called The Temple are opposed to experimental marriage and Free Love. I think her book would have been even more interesting had she tackled Oneida’s sexual radicalism head-on.

    I was not impressed with the novel The Strawberry Fields of Heaven by Blossom Elfman. But, I enjoyed The Good Silver by Matthew Dunn – a murder mystery set at Oneida.

    Can anyone recommend Wives of High Pasture by Worth Tuttle Heddon?


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