Study of the Socialist Commune at Ruskin, Tennessee

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This is the first full-length study of the Ruskin experiment northwest of Nashville. The book discusses the rise and fall of Ruskin, at first communally and commercially successful but at the end spitefully and rancorously rent.


“…contains information valuable to those researching communal living experiments at America’s turn of the century, as it serves to fill in some gaps and to clarify connections among people, places, and events of the time….In addition to providing considerable information about both Ruskin colonies, the book also contains information about the single tax colony of Fairhope, Alabama, where several Ruskinites migrated….a historical and personal account of life in Ruskin, which is both entertaining and readable to a lay audience.” – Utopian Studies

“Surprisingly little has been written about this famous colony, and co-authors Jan Bakker and Francelia Butler have drawn on traditional sources and on the impressions garnered from a colony descendent, Butler’s deceased husband, Jerome, who was born at Ruskin in 1899. This is not an academic history in the narrow sense, but rather an exploration into the spirit of community life. The issues of feminism, free love, and Marxism were real issues for the colonists and widely debated by them. Butler and Bakker have captured the spirit of those debates in their account, and general readers or historians will find this volume an invaluable one as they continue to sort out the history of communal societies in America.” – Robert S. Fogarty

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword; Introduction
1. Comrade Julius and Ruskin
2. Birth of a Commune
3. Education in the Commune
4. Women in Ruskin
5. Ruskin Responds to the Spanish-American War
6. Decline of Ruskin in Tennessee
7. Free Love and the Death of the Commune
8. Ruskin in Georgia and the Story of Annie
9. Ruskin in Alabama and the Single Tax Corporation
Photographs of the Ruskin Settlements in Special Collections, Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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