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Francelia Butler Collection on the Ruskin Co-operative Association

 Collection
Identifier: MS-1014

This collection, created by scholar Francelia Butler, documents the Ruskin Co-operative Association, which was active from 1893 to 1899 in Ruskin, Tennessee and from 1899 to 1901 in Ruskin, Georgia. Among these materials are published records, documents, photographs, newspapers (which discuss the economic depression of the 1890s that induced people to join the Commune), and published articles.

Francelia Williams Butler (1913-1998) wrote for the International Herald Tribune in Paris during the 1930s and taught English for 21 years at the University of Connecticut. She received a B.A. from Oberlin College, M.A. from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Butler launched the International Peace Games Festival for elementary school teachers and children, founded the journal Children's Literature, and also published a book on skip-rope rhymes, entitled Skipping Around the World in 1989.

Dates

  • 1870-1983

Conditions Governing Access

Manuscript collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for research use. Readers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

4 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection, created by scholar Francelia Butler, documents the Ruskin Co-operative Association, which was active from 1893 to 1899 in Ruskin, Tennessee and from 1899 to 1901 in Ruskin, Georgia. Among these materials are published records, documents, photographs, newspapers (which discuss the economic depression of the 1890s that induced people to join the Commune), and published articles.

Biographical/Historical Note

Indiana newspaperman Julius Augustus Wayland inaugurated the idea for the Ruskin Cooperative Association in 1881. He used his newspaper, The Coming Nation, to raise both support and money for his proposed colony. His dream was realized in 1894 when the Ruskin Cooperative Association (named after English social critic John Ruskin) was established in Tennessee City. The colony soon moved to a site near a large cave on Yellow Creek that still bears the name Ruskin. Colonists (most of whom came from the mid- and far West) could join the organization by purchasing a $500 no-yield share and demonstrating a commitment to cooperative living. In order to counteract the Industrial Age's wage slavery, colonists worked at such tasks as farming, cooking, and printing the Nation in exchange for scrip, which they then used to purchase materials priced using the same system. The colony also offered free medical care and education, the latter intended to create a class of philosopher kings to lead the new society.

Wayland led the fledgling colony for only a year, and tensions soon developed between those colonists who wanted to apply radical socialist ideals in order to bring about the coming nation and those who considered Ruskin a haven for such American concepts as political and economic independence. By 1899, this factionalism had caused the colony to disintegrate. The colony was put into receivership, sparking two years of lawsuits between the opposing groups over ownership and control of the Association. Although a few of the colony's members attempted to reestablish it in Georgia as the Ruskin Commonwealth, these efforts proved unsuccessful.

Arrangement note

This collection consists of six boxes divided into four series:

  1. Series I: Notebooks, Books, and Newspapers, 1870-1977, undated
  2. Series II: Original Ruskin Memorabilia, 1898-1980, undated
  3. Series III: Other Notes and Manuscripts, 1894-1983, undated
  4. Series IV: Oversized Materials, 1898 June 25-1975 October 12

Related Archival Materials

Interested researchers may also wish to consult:

  1. MS.0023: Ruskin Cooperative Association Collection, 1894-1915, 1933-1958
  2. MS.0335: Ruskin Cave College Collection, 1896-1964, undated (bulk 1896-1916)
  3. MS.2268: Ruskin Cave College Collection, 1912-1965 (bulk 1912-1918)
  4. MS.2357: Ruskin College Collection, 1931-1959
  5. MS.2360: Jan Bakker/Ruskin Commune Papers, 1992-1993
  6. MS.2842: Jan Bakker and Francelia Butler Papers on Ruskin, Tennessee, 1776-2003 [bulk 1997-2001]

Separated Materials

The following books were removed from the collection and cataloged into the Rare Books stacks:

  1. Bestor, Arthur Eugene. Backwoods utopias: the sectarian and Owenite phases of communitarian socialism in America, 1663-1829. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950 (HX654 .B4)
  2. Coleman, McAlister. Eugene V. Debs, a man unafraid. New York: Greenberg, c1930 (HX84.D3 C)
  3. Daniels, Robert Vincent. The nature of communism. New York: Random House, 1962 (HX56 .D3)
  4. Gray, Donald J. and Allan H. Orrick. Designs of famous Utopias: materials for research papers. New York: Rinehart, 1959 (LB2369 .G7)
  5. Herreshoff, David. American disciples of Marx: from the age of Jackson to the progressive era. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1967 (HX83 .H39)
  6. Marx, Karl. Value, price and profit, addressed to working men. Chicago: C. H. Kerr, n.d. (HB771 .M3)
  7. Muncy, Raymond Lee. Sex and marriage in utopian communities: 19th century America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973 (HX806 .M8)
  8. Noyes, John Humphrey. Strange cults and utopias of 19th-century America. New York: Dover Publications, 1966 (HX83 .N9 1966a)
  9. Sams, Henry W. Autobiography of Brook Farm. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1958 (HX656.B8 S3)
  10. Sinclair, Upton. Oil! a novel. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, c1927 (PS3537.I85 O4 1927a)
  11. Wayland, Walter. As I pass by : poem stories. s.l. : s.n., c1966 (PS3545.A95 A8)
  12. Wilson, William E. The angel and the serpent: the story of New Harmony. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964 (HX656.N5 W5)
  13. Zablocki, Benjamin David. The joyful community; an account of the Bruderhof, a communal movement now in its third generation. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971 (HX656.B85 Z3)

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480