This book contains a wide variety of essays dealing with the role of women in such communities as "The Woman's Commonwealth," the Owenite communities, Brook Farm, the Shakers, Oneida, The Farm, the Hutterites, Twin Oaks, and more. In her Introduction, Marlyn Klee-Hartzell states, "We know of no feminist studies, for example, of Amana, Zoar, Icaria, Bethel, Aurora, the Moravians, or of Llano del Rio, Loinonia, Rajneesh, Jonestown, or Hare Krishna..." and this book is intended to encourage further such studies.
The Woman's Commonwealth is covered in several chapters, noting that "The Woman's Commonwealth was one of the few intentional communities designed, controlled, and populated by women. It was shaped by the women inhabitants according to their needs and beliefs.
Specific topics/chapters include, "Sojourner Truth," "Creative Women of Brook Farm," "A Reassessment of Gender Equality among the Shakers," "Spiritual Enlightenment and Sexual Ideology on The Farm," "A Hutterite Childhood," "The Power of Feminism at Twin Oaks Community," etc.
Many interesting observations are made: e.g., "Traditional nineteenth-century images of women's roles included submission to male authority. However, on the frontier, a different female stereotype appeared. The pioneer woman was still expected to submit to her husband's wishes, but she was also responsible for running the family farm when her husband was away, for bearing and raising her children in isolated areas, and for working many hours on the farm itself."
This book will be of considerable interest to anyone interested in utopias, intentional communities, communes, women's history, and other topics.