The recently discovered diary of an Oneida Community member written between 1876 and 1877 deals with love, aggression, jealousy, and the conflict between private desire and public good. Victor Hawley was a thirty-year-old dental assistant with a passion for collecting butterflies, who fell in love with Mary Jones, another colony member. Because of the community's unique social and sexual practices, however, the two were kept apart and denied their request to have a child. In the eyes of the community, their love was unsanctified. Instead, on the order of colony founder John Humphrey Noyes, Jones was subsequently impregnated by Noyes's son. Fogarty effectively uses the diary to illuminate with particular clarity the largely ignored darker side of the community. Thus this rare chronicle opens for radical reinterpretation the Oneida Community's plan on procreation and the central role that sexual domination played in its history. Hawley's intense struggle to reconcile individual and community needs and desires illustrates a fundamental tension that characterized the community in the years immediately preceding its dissolution. In 1877, after twenty-three years at Oneida, Victor Hawley left the community with Mary Jones after he nursed her through an agonizing pregnancy that ended in stillbirth. They married, had five children, and lived on their own, outside the embrace of Eden. From numerous entries in Hawley's secret diary, which were written in an arcane shorthand, Robert S. Fogarty successfully extracts some astonishing personal details, which include descriptions of areas of community life never before revealed on such matters as religious commitment and experiments in eugenics.Special Love/Special Sex will be specifically of interest to scholars in utopian and communitarian studies and to social historians.
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