Historical Dictionary of the Shakers

Second Edition

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Stephen J. Paterwic
Historical Dictionary, Philosophies, and Movement Series
  • Lanham, MD: 
    Rowman & Littlefield
    , June
     460 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Emily Bailey forthcoming.


“Shakerism teaches God’s immanence through the common life shared in Christ’s mystical body.” Like many religious seekers throughout the ages, they honor the revelation of God but cannot be bound up in an unchanging set of dogmas or creeds. Freeing themselves from domination by the state religion, Mother Ann Lee and her first followers in mid-18th-century England labored to encounter the godhead directly. They were blessed by spiritual gifts that showed them a way to live the heavenly life on Earth. The result of their efforts was the fashioning of a celibate communal life called the Christlife, wherein a person, after confessing all sin, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can travel the path of regeneration into ever- increasing holiness. Pacifism, equality of the sexes, and withdrawal from the world are some of the ways the faith was put into practice.

This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Shakers contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 300 cross-referenced entries on Shaker communities, industries, individual families, and important people. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Shakers.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Stephen J. Paterwic recently retired from the West Springfield Public Schools. He is a frequent presenter at Shaker seminars and forums and he is the author of numerous articles on the Shakers. He currently serves as an overseer of Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts and is a trustee of Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine. The Shakers of Sabbathday Lake have been his lifelong friends and provide inspiration for his spiritual life.


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