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Noyes, John Humphrey, ed. The circular. Brooklyn, NY: No publisher/printer, 1851–52. Folio (46 cm, 18.5"). 207,  pp. $2,875.00
John Humphrey Noyes founded the Oneida Community in 1848 and The Circular came into being only three years later as the reinvented version of The Free Church Circular, which had been Oneida's periodical until a fire destroyed the printing area in July, 1851. It was not only the Oneida community’s own newspaper, it was => its chief propaganda organ and that is apparent in these pages; for who "outside" could resist curiosity such as that raised by the headline of the very first issue's first article here — "Financial View of the Second Coming. [Adapted to Wall Street]"? Over the years The Circular was to change its name several more times; in 1871 it became The Oneida Circular and in 1877 it changed again to The American Socialist. Similarly, and even more frequently, its place of publication changed: Brooklyn (1851–54), Oneida, NY (1855–Feb. 1864), Mount Tom (i.e., Wallingford, CT, Mar. 1864–Mar. 9, 1868), and finally Oneida Community (Mar. 23, 1868–Dec. 26, 1870).
The Oneida Community has often been called the most successful American 19th-century Utopian community: A Perfectionist communal society dedicated to living as one family and to sharing all property, work, and love. The website of the Swarthmore College’s Peace Collection has this to say about the it, and about The Circular in particular: “The Oneida Community was an experiment in Christian perfectionism, the doctrine that by union with God, humans could live lives entirely free from sin. Founded by John Humphrey Noyes (1811–1886), it was radical in the thoroughness with which this challenging ideal was pursued. The community's religious leanings are readily apparent in the discussion provided by The Circular, in which many [secular] topics are covered; yet most of the conclusions call on religious ideals.”
The Oneida newspaper meant so much to Noyes that even after he gave up control of the Oneida Community, he was to retain control of the newspaper and continue its => its advocacy for social change along with argument for communitarian economic aims, and these embraced a wide range: women’s rights, abolition, “complex marriage” (a form of polyamory), birth control via male continence, and (eventually) proto-eugenics, to name but five. As a University of Syracuse digital guide to the Oneida Community Collection notes, "The papers contained a very frank record of the daily life at Oneida as well as religious tracts, discourses on current subjects of social, political, and economic interest, letters to the editors, and advertisements for the Community's varied manufactured goods. They made no secret of their manner of life. . . . "
Present here is The Circular's volume I, numbers 1–52 (November 1851 through October 1852), all issues printed in four-column format and very legible type. Following the attention-grabbing article already cited, the gathering's first issue presents a neat statement of "The Basis and Prospects of the Circular" before moving directly on to recount at length the foundering on a Hudson River excursion of a Community-owned sloop, with the loss of two woman members' lives. => This is an engaging, very readable social history compendium apart from its usefulness for the study of a particular, mid–19th century American, radical social and religious movement.
Mott, History of American Magazines, II, p. 207; Lomazow, American Periodicals, 568; Oneida Community collection in the Syracuse University Library, pp. 24–25; https://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/o/OneidaCommunityCollection/hsr1.htm; and Sabin, 89516. Stitched, in plain wrappers. Front wrapper with a patch of waterstaining along upper spine area, carrying through variously but usually faintly through March issue; some later issues on paper inclined to browning. Untrimmed, and with very little staining or tattering. => A physically stable collection, safely and immediately usable. (41155) Please RESHELVE This.
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