Attempted Utopias Harmony Society Part 2

About the attempted utopia Harmony Society founded by George Rapp, history, population, economic and social structure.

Attempted Utopias


Family/Marriage/Sex: In 1807 the Harmonists adopted one of their more interesting customs, that of celibacy, which they practiced throughout their history. They believed that celibacy would encourage men to put the community ahead of the family, would lead to maximum productivity by preventing distractions of the flesh, and would ease community's burden by keeping the society childless. A rumor developed that Father Rapp's son, John, died as a result of being castrated for sexual indulgences, and that the castration was performed by his father, but this rumor has never been proved.

Place of Women: Because they were not burdened with the childbearing and-raising, women were expected to work alongside the men in community work. One visitor to New Harmony wrote that its women seemed "intentionally disfigured and made as ugly as it is possible for art to make them, having their hair combed straight up, and a little skullcap, or black crepe bandage across the crown and tied under the chin." The visitor went on to say that he didn't think it would be difficult to observe the custom of celibacy.

Education and Culture: Religious education was considered important, and this was Father Rapp's province. There was little concern given to formal training, though the town did boast a schoolmaster and a rather high literacy rate.

Why the Experiment Ended: The Harmonists, despite great financial success, ceased functioning at the turn of the century, nearly 100 years after their formation. One of the 2 most widely accepted reasons for this dissolution was that after the death of Father Rapp the Society lacked the strong leadership it needed. The other was the rule of celibacy, for though the community had material wealth, it had few members. (Note: An extensive program of restoration has been completed at Economy. Visitors may now see it-14th & Church Sts., Ambridge, Pa. 15003-as its members did at the zenith of its career.)

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