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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Harmony Society Pamphlets

January 31, 2018

Backlogs are inevitable, especially in institutions like ours. Materials come in at a quick pace, which makes it difficult for library staff members to process and/or catalog everything in a timely fashion. We do our best, but sometimes it takes years – even decades – for items to reach the front of the line.

Just last month, I cataloged 10 small pamphlets which had been accessioned in the early 1960s. I was happy to rescue them from the backlog, especially since the subject matter will interest many of our library patrons and researchers. All ten pamphlets touch on various aspects of the Harmony Society, a religious sect that formed communal societies in Pennsylvania and Indiana. They were published between 1959 and 1964 and printed by George A. Hays on the 1822 Harmony Wood Printing Press at Old Economy Village, Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

The Harmony Society was founded by George Rapp (1757-1847), a weaver and lay preacher who emigrated from Germany in 1803 to escape religious persecution. He and his followers established three successive communes in the United States: Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania (1804); Harmony, Posey County, Indiana (1814); and Economy, Beaver County, Pennsylvania (1824). Father Rapp died in 1847, and by the end of the 19th century, only a few Harmonists remained. The Society was disbanded in 1906; however, its history survives today thanks to preservation efforts, and all three settlements have been declared National Historic Landmarks by the National Park Service.

The IHS library holds a variety of materials pertaining to the Harmony Society. The following additions will be of interest to anyone studying this Utopian movement and its leaders:

Early American Printing and the 1822 Harmony Wood Press (1961)
Early Travel on the Ohio River (1964)
Excerpts from Thoughts on the Destiny of Man (1959)
Founders of the Harmony Society (1959 & 1961)
Gertrud Rapp (1959)
Gleanings of the Harmony Society (1960)
The 1822 Harmony Wood Press and Nineteenth Century Contemporaries (1964)
The Churches of the Harmony Society (1964)
The Silk Industry & Other Crafts of the Harmonie Society (1964)
West of the Alleghenies and Other Information (1960)

Search for these titles and other Harmony Society materials here.

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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