David A. Johnson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History



Physical Description

1 online resource (131 p.)


John Humphrey Noyes (1811-1886), Social reformers -- United States -- Biography




John Humphrey Noyes was the founder of the Oneida Community, one of the most successful utopian ventures in nineteenth-century America. Early in his life, Noyes was a deep religious thinker, but he founded Oneida as an ideal society based on extending the family unit, and not as a church. Noyes's social theories eventually overwhelmed his former religious concentration.

The purpose of this thesis is to locate in Noyes's religiously-oriented youth the sources of his social interests. Few scholars have studied in depth the childhood and young manhood of John Humphrey Noyes, but that is where the roots of his social theories are to be found. Noyes did write his religious autobiography, but completely passed over his formative years. Further, he never wrote the analysis of his social ideas and experiences that he had once promised. However, many of his early letters and journals have been compiled and edited by his relatives; and his immediate family left reminiscences of his youth. These works provide most of the available information on the childhood of Noyes. Large gaps in his history do exist, however. Therefore, the modern psychological theories of Erik Erikson are used to illuminate the otherwise shadowy areas of Noyes's early life.


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