Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, or the Shakers, are a small progressive communal religious group founded in the mid-eighteenth century by a woman named Ann Lee. This thesis follows the stories told about Ann Lee by the Shakers throughout their history and documents how the changing narratives reflect the changing culture of Shakerism. As a result of being both a progressive and a communal religious society, the Shakers faced the dilemma of maintaining their religious core while maintaining a progressive stance that was consistent with the dominant culture from which they strived to separate themselves. This thesis argues that the Shakers used the static form of the written narrative to balance and maintain the essential nature of Shakerism, threatened by increased interaction with American mainstream society.


Anthropology | History | History of Gender