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In American religious history communal groups have played an important role. These include the Shakers, who followed the teachings of Mother Ann Lee (1736 - 84), and the perfectionist Oneida Community of John Humphrey Noyes (1811 - 86). Although heretical in terms of traditional Christian theology, both these groups had considerable social impact upon American society. The Shakers are credited with inventing the washing machine, while the Oneida Community developed silver plating and became an important industrial enterprise.

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The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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