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The Shakers (officially The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing) were/are a sect of Protestant Christians, an offshoot of the Quakers, who lived in communal villages mainly in New England. The term "Shaker" is a portmanteau of "Shaking Quaker", referencing the intensity with which they worshipped. It is very rare to see them officially referred to as Shakers, as it was originally considered a slur, but a few documents from the 1790s and early 1800s do use the term.
The group started in England, UK in the 17th Century when Ann Standerin became noisy in church to the disapproval of others. The group were criticised and sometimes prosecuted for tumultuous behavior in religious services but eventually immigrated to the United States after Standerin had a
hallucination vision telling her a place was prepared for the Shakers there.
Shakers were noted for very lively behavior during church services, shaking violently, speaking in tongues, etc. Shakers also believed in total abstinence (even husbands and wives were not allowed to roll in the hay), and this proved a fatal blow to them when adoption laws were changed so that religious organizations could no longer adopt children. To their credit, they brought the rest of us Simple Gifts before dying out.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. - Acts 2:44-45
They also made a ton of things, being early adherents to the idea that reproducing a successful design for something was a lot easier than reinventing the wheel over and over and over and over and over and over again, and they proved very economically adaptable to the demands of the times; for instance, even though they were a seed-selling powerhouse in northern Connecticut for the first 60+ years of the 19th century, when that market niche became no longer viable after the Civil War they rapidly switched to using dairy products for signature items. They also readily took to technology, considering it God's gift to humans.
One good point about the Shakers was that they believed in and practiced racial and sexual equality. While men's and women's work is strictly segregated, they are considered to be on entirely equal footing.
- The Shaking Quakers, Utopia Britannica
- What are the Shaker religious beliefs?, Answers.com
- The History of The World's Smallest Church, YouTube