Shaker Studies

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Origin of the Shaker name PDF Print E-mail
The name "Shakers," originally pejorative, was derived from the term "Shaking Quakers" and was applied as a mocking description of their rituals of trembling, shouting, dancing, shaking, singing, and glossolalia (speaking in strange and unknown languages).

In 1774 Ann Lee pulled together nine of her followers from an English sect known as the Wardleys, founded by Jane and James Wardley, which she joined in 1758. They arrived on August 6, 1774 in New York City, and in 1776 the Shakers settled in Niskayuna, New York, where a unique communal life began to develop and thrive. Lee taught her followers that it is possible to attain perfect holiness. Like her predecessors the Wardleys, she taught that the demonstrations of shaking and trembling were caused by sin being purged from the body by the power of the Holy Spirit, purifying the worshipper. Distinctively the followers of Mother Ann came to believe that she embodied all the perfections of God in female form. 

 (Note: The Shaker community north of Albany was called by Shakers "the Niskayuna community." The township they were in was then officially called Watervliet, although they bordered Niskayuna, the adjacent township to the northwest in Schenectady County. The township of Watervliet is now the township of Colonie (since 1895), and the name Watervliet is now limited to only the incorporated City of Watervliet (1896). This has led to some confusion, but the best method is to use the name the Shakers used for their community, Niskayuna. It is also fairly common to refer to the members there as Niskayuna Shakers.)   

First Shaker society

The village was divided into groups or "families" that were named for points on the compass rose. Each house was divided so that men and women did everything separately. They used different staircases and doors, and sat on opposite sides of the room.

 A spiritualistic revival in New Lebanon, some forty miles away, sent many penitents to Niskayuna, who accepted Mother Ann's teachings and organized in 1787 (before any formal organization in Niskayuna) the New Lebanon Society, the first Shaker Society, at New Lebanon (since 1861 called Mt. Lebanon), Columbia County, New York. The Society at Niskayuna organized immediately afterwards, and the New Lebanon Society formed a bishopric. The Niskayuna Shakers, as pacifists and non-jurors, had gotten into trouble during the American War of Independence.

Information found at Wikipedia