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Distributed for University Press of New England

Inspired Innovations

A Celebration of Shaker Ingenuity

Since the late eighteenth century, Shakers have exerted an influence on our nation wholly disproportionate to the size of their communities. Their approach has helped shape everything from craftsmanship and ingenuity to concepts of communal living and work ethic. And while much of our modern-day fascination with the United Society of Shakers centers upon their unique attention to craftsmanship, the innovative spirit they brought to simple, Godly living is indeed the most timeless aspect of their legacy. From their earliest days, the Shakers have depended on innovations of every sort to secure their place in a world that was, initially, hostile to their so-called “peculiar” beliefs: community, celibacy, and primitive Christianity. These innovations included improvements, adaptations, refinements, and inventions. Inspired Innovations is the first book devoted to this widely acknowledged but long neglected aspect of Shakerism. A group of thirteen distinguished Shaker scholars, led by M. Stephen Miller, presents in this lavishly illustrated volume their research on the many “zones” of innovation that are considered here. Historians Scott T. Swank, Glendyne R. Wergland, and Stephen J. Paterwic “set the table” for a feast of words and images. The book features 350 full-color images, complete with descriptive captions and technical data.

240 pages | 8 1/2 x 11

Religion: Christianity


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Preface – Douglas K.S. Hyland • Using This Book • Introduction • Innovations in Shaker Architecture and Planning – Scott T. Swank • Equality of the Sexes as Shakers’ Inspired Innovation – Glendyne R. Wergland • Shaker Innovation: Lifestyle and Governance – Stephen J. Paterwic • Garden Seeds – M. Stephen Miller • Medicinal Herbs and Preparations – Galen Beale • Planting Perfection: The Shakers as Horticultural Innovators – Darryl Thompson • Woodenwares: Oval Box Making at Mount Lebanon, New York – Jerry V. Grant • Shaker Basket Making – Martha Wetherbee • Cooperage – M. Stephen Miller • Shaker Textiles: Cloak Making – Sharon Duane Koomler • Shaker Chairs – Charles R. Muller • Fancy Goods: Poplarware – Richard Dabrowski • Health and Sanitation – M. Stephen Miller • Retiring Rooms – M. Stephen Miller • The Shakers and the Invention of the Circular Saw: A Circular Argument – Christian Goodwillie • Innovations in Music and Song – Carol Medlicott • Notes • About the Authors • Index

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