Women and Gender in the Oneida Community, 1848-1959

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Onieda Community Silverplate Ad, 1955
Onieda Community Silverplate Ad, 1955 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
1848 - 1959

Historical Context

Writings in their periodicals reveal the Oneida Community believed in the comparable standing of men and women in society and advocated for women’s reproductive rights. In this spirit, women in the Oneida Community were afforded far more opportunities for learning and working outside the home than their contemporaries in the “outside world.” Community women even wore a particular style of the “Bloomer Costume,” what they referred to as “short dress” or “pantalettes,” that is extensively documented through their photographic record. After the Community amicably broke up and transitioned into a secular business, Oneida Community, Limited (later Oneida Limited) the tradition of affording women more rights and opportunities continued with women sitting on the Board of Directors and working on the floor of the flatware factory. During World War I and World War II, many women helped in the war effort, including doing factory work as the company transitioned from tableware to war materiel. Women who lived in the Oneida Community and their descendants were also active in the fight for women’s suffrage and one of these women, Jessie Catherine Kinsley, kept diary entries documenting the movement in Central New York. Finally, Oneida Limited was known for innovative and provocative advertisements that give insight into gender roles in the 20th century.

Scope of Collection

This collection of advertisements, objects, periodical articles, photographs, and diary entries gives a window into the roles of women in the Oneida Community (1848-1880) and the companies that it founded, Oneida Community, Limited (1881-1934), and Oneida Limited (1935-2005).