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Ruskin Cooperative Association Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0023

This collection houses membership lists, mementos, photographs, correspondence, legal papers, scrapbooks, minute books, notes, manuscripts, articles, clippings, and other materials documenting the Ruskin Cooperative Association. Many of these documents were created or collected by Grace (Stone) Buehler during the course of her research into the organization.

Dates

  • 1894-1915, 1933-1958

Language of Materials

The material in this collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers 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 Special Collections.

Extent

4 Linear Feet

Overview

This collection houses membership lists, mementos, photographs, correspondence, legal papers, scrapbooks, minute books, notes, manuscripts, articles, clippings, and other materials documenting the Ruskin Cooperative Association. Many of these documents were created or collected by Grace (Stone) Buehler during the course of her research into the organization.

Biographical / Historical

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

This collection consists of four boxes.

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