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From: Charles Nordhoff, The Communistic Societies of the United States from Personal Visit and Observation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875), pp. 259–301.


The Perfectionists of Oneida, New York, and Wallingford, Connecticut, are best known for their practice of what they called “complex marriage,” a system of polygamy and polyandry devised by their founder John Humphrey Noyes (1811–1886). This account by Charles Nordhoff (1830-1901), a journalist based in New York, was drawn from his visits to the Perfectionist colonies, and includes a description of their history, organization, manners, beliefs, worship, faith-cures, and their practice of “criticism.”