The Shakers were never completely separate from the outside world. They exchanged goods with non-Shakers throughout their history. Shakers started their first major business, garden seeds, by 1790. Eventually they produced hundreds of products ranging from herbs and brooms to chairs and oval boxes. After the 1860s, as fewer men lived in Shaker communities agricultural products declined as Shaker Sisters produced less physically demanding merchandise such as sewing boxes and rugs. They successfully ran businesses at a time when female entrepreneurs were uncommon. The exceptional quality of Shaker goods reflects their belief in work as a form of worship. Today, the Shakers are best known for the beauty and quality of the items they made and sold to the outside


New York State Museum spacer NYSED logo Office of Cultural Education
New York State Education Department

Information: 518-474-5877
Contact Us | Image Requests | Terms of Use