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Utopian Communities (1841-1922): Topics in Chronicling America

America saw a rise in utopianism in the 19th century as some sought to live in communities with certain ideals. This guide provides access to materials related to "Utopian Communities" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"A settler viewing his ideal home." January 6, 1900. Daily Inter Mountain (Butte, MT), Image 11. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Although the word “utopia” is often associated with science fiction, utopian communities were a common fixture in nineteenth century America. Incorporating unique religious and social ideals, these communities grew rapidly during the nineteenth century before declining in the early twentieth century. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1841 Brook Farm, a communal joint stock company, opens in Massachusetts.
1848 The Oneida Community, a communal religious organization practicing free love and complex marriage, opens in New York.
1874 Valcour Community, a free-love community, is established on an island in Lake Champlain.
1879 The Oneida Community abandons complex marriage.
1900 The City of Shalam, a utopian community near El Paso, reaches a population of 3,000.
1922 The population of the Shaker Community declines.