The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Brook Farm

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BROOK FARM, a community organized in 1841 near West Roxbury, Mass. Under the leadership of George Ripley and his wife, an association was formed with a few stockholders and a farm of 200 acres was purchased. Among the members of this association were Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles A. Dana, John S. Dwight and George P. Bradford; other prominent people connected with Brook Farm were Ralph W. Emerson, Amos B. Alcott, Theodore Parker, George W. Curtis and Margaret Fuller. The ideal of the Association was to promote the reorganization of society in accordance with the principles of co-operation. The life of the community was very simple; every one had some share of the work to do, the rate of pay being practically the same for all kinds of work, and all had a share in the educational advantages and the social enjoyments. There were a number of industrial employments besides the tilling of the farm, and the surplus product was sold to outsiders. The school was also an important feature, furnishing instruction in all grades, including college subjects; pupils outside the community were received on the payment of a small fee. In 1843 the Association, coming under the influence of Albert Brisbane, adopted the organization of the phalanx according to the plan of Fourier, and established the three “primary departments” of agriculture, domestic industry and mechanic arts; it became also a centre of the Fourierist propaganda and prospered until, on 3 March 1846, the new building, the Phalanstery, was burned. Enthusiasm waned with financial loss, and the Association finally dissolved in October 1847. Consult Codman, ‘Brook Farm, Historic and Personal Memoirs’ (Boston 1849); Russell, ‘Home Life of the Brook Farm Association’ (Boston 1900); Sears, ‘My Friends at Brook Farm’ (New York 1912); Swift, L., ‘Brook Farm, Its Members, Scholars and Visitors’ (New York 1900).