Brook Farm  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Brook Farm, also called the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education or the Brook Farm Association for Industry and Education, was a utopian experiment in communal living in the United States in the 1840s. It was founded by former Unitarian minister George Ripley and his wife Sophia Ripley at the Ellis Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts (9 miles outside of downtown Boston) in 1841 and was inspired in part by the ideals of Transcendentalism, a religious and cultural philosophy based in New England. Founded as a joint stock company, it promised its participants a portion of the profits from the farm in exchange for performing an equal share of the work. Brook Farmers believed that by sharing the workload, ample time would be available for leisure activities and intellectual pursuits.

Life on Brook Farm was based on balancing labor and leisure while working together for the benefit of the greater community. Each member could choose to do whatever work they found most appealing and all were paid equally, including women. Revenue for the community came from farming and from selling handmade products like clothing as well as through fees paid by the many visitors to Brook Farm. The main source of income was the school, which was overseen by Mrs. Ripley. A pre-school, primary school, and a college preparatory school attracted children internationally and each child was charged for his or her education. Adult education was also offered.

The community was never financially stable and had difficulty profiting from its agricultural pursuits. By 1844, the Brook Farmers adopted a societal model based on the socialist concepts of Charles Fourier and began publishing The Harbinger as an unofficial journal promoting Fourierism. Following his vision, the community members began building an ambitious structure called the Phalanstery. When the uninsured building was destroyed in a fire, the community was financially devastated and never recovered. It was fully closed by 1847. Despite the experimental commune's failure, many Brook Farmers looked back on their experience positively. Critics of the commune included Charles Lane, founder of another utopian community called Fruitlands. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a founding member of Brook Farm, though he was not a strong adherent of the community's ideals. He later fictionalized his experience in his novel The Blithedale Romance (1852). After its failure, most of the buildings at Brook Farm eventually burned down and today much of the land is a cemetery.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Brook Farm" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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