John Humphrey Noyes

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  • John Humphrey Noyes - Narrated by Paul van Winkle


Vermont has spawned many free thinkers whose ideas tested the boundaries of norms. Brattleboro-born John Humphrey Noyes was one of the most interesting of these early 19th Century 'Second Great Awakening' leaders whose ideas on group marriage, family planning and equality between the sexes attracted a small group of followers -- the Putney Perfectionists -- who lived what they called 'Bible Communism'. Noyes, his wife Harriet Holton and their extended family published many publications espousing such ideals much to the consternation of local Putneyites who forced Noyes out of town under threat of imprisonment. He fled west to form the Oneida Community in New York State, which thrived for 30 years under Noyes' direction. The 'commune' was unique in that it successfully moved from agrarian to industrial enterprise and created an early, commonly held joint stock corporation. They also experimented with Noyes' 'stirpiculture' to create superior children. Noyes fled to Canada after accusations of abuse, dying there with Harriet by his side. Descendants abandoned their radical tenets and turned their zeal toward manufacturing silver tableware. Oneida Silverware became one of the most successful enterprises of that sector in the world and still exists as a brand today.

John Humphrey Noyes - Historical Marker - Putney, VT: Corner of Frost and Kimball Hill Roads

Frost Road, Putney, Vermont 05346, United States

Research & Production

Audio Producer/Editor: Sally Seymour

Script: Lissa Weinmann/Sally Seymour

Narration: Leah Susan Goodman

Voice of Noyes: Paul Van Winkle

Voice of Rev. Hubbard Eastman: John Loggia

Community Research Assistance: Ande Singh, Fletcher D. Procter

Ongoing Development and Involvement:

As a community-created project, we encourage ongoing dialogue, questions, and engagement. If you would like to be involved in future developments, have information or a perspective that could deepen others' understanding of this topic, please contact us: we want to hear from you.

  • <p>Noyes home- Putney, VT - photo courtesy Putney Historical Society</p> <p>Noyes home- Putney, VT - photo courtesy Putney Historical Society</p>
  • <p>Cover of Pamphlet by Rev. Hubbard Eastman, 1849</p>
  • <p>John Humphrey Noyes - portrait</p> <p>John Humphrey Noyes - portrait</p>
  • <p>John Humphrey Noyes State Marker</p>