Oneida Community

Ben Quackenbush

John Humphrey Noyes

The founder of the Oneida Community was John Humphrey Noyes.The Oneida Community in upstate New York was one of the of the 40-odd utopian communities that came to fruition in 19th-century America. Most of these communities were short-lived experiments based loosely on the theories of the French socialist Charles Fourier. Oneida, in contrast, lasted over three decades, from 1848 to 1880.


Main Ideas/Beliefs

The Oneida Community was created on the basis of Complex Marriage. In their community, it was believed that monogamy was impure, so they continually switched partners throughout their lives, under the supervision of Noyes. Shortly after puberty, boys and girls were assigned a succession of older partners. All the men at Oneida were thought to be linked in divine marriage to all the women. Many community members had two or three different partners a week. Also, no two people could have exclusive attachment with each other because it would be selfish and idolatrous. Any two people found in any such situation would be separated and not allowed to see each other for a certain length of time.


Children were raised away from the adults. If a man and a women wanted a child, they had to ask the permission of Noyes, but after birth it was taken away to live with the other children and then raised communally. Accidental pregnancies were considered to be a accident, and of no responsibility of the man.

Oneida Community