Digital Commonwealth

John Sullivan Dwight correspondence regarding Brook Farm, 1840-1848

Boston Public Library

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This collection contains letters written to and from John Sullivan Dwight between 1840 and 1848. They cover a variety of subjects including George Ripley’s (1802-1880) resignation from the Purchase Street church in 1840, Sophia Ripley’s (1803-1861) description of early life on the Farm, Albert Brisbane’s (1809-1890) comments of the progress of associationism, the future prospects of the community after the Phalanstery fire, and William Henry Channing’s (1810-1884) thoughts about the future of the reform movement.

Founded by George Ripley (1802-1880) in 1841, the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education was a Transcendentalist community located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Brook Farm was an experiment in communal living that sought to create a harmonious society wherein both men and women shared the labor, which in turn provided them with more time to pursue their intellectual and artistic interests. Residents were stockholders in the farm. Another important element of Brook Farm was its school, which provided a progressive education and was its main source of income. In 1844, the farm converted to the ideas of Charles Fourier, who advocated for a society that was divided into cooperative communities of small, self-sustaining groups called phalanxes. With the conversion came a new constitution and the name Brook Farm Association for Industry and Education.

From 1845-1847, the Harbinger, the Fourierist magazine, was published at Brook Farm and edited by Ripley. A fire in 1846 destroyed the central building (the Phalanstery) and, together with financial difficulties, contributed to the dissolution of the community in 1847.

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