About the Collections

The core of the Library's Shaker manuscript, imprint, and photographic collection was acquired by the Museum's founder, John S. Williams, Sr., directly from the Shakers at Mount Lebanon, New York, Hancock, Massachusetts, and Canterbury, New Hampshire during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1961, the Shakers' Central Ministry, through the offices of Eldress Emma B. King, for whom the Library is named, designated the Shaker Museum and Library the official repository for the records of discontinued Shaker Societies. The following year, King presented the Museum with the official library and archives that were in the care of the Shaker Ministry. Following her first visit to the new Library she wrote, "I feel very grateful to you on behalf of our organization for the work you have done to preserve and perpetuate our Shaker History and traditions, our religion and our ideals. As time passes, I am sincerely hoping that recent records and writings we have not been able to trace may find their way to you for safe keeping, information and unified preservation." 

Visiting the Library

The Library is open year-round by appointment with the Director of Research and Library Services. The Library is not a lending institution and does not participate in Interlibrary Loans. If possible to reproduce materials without risk of damage, photocopies, electronic texts, photographs, or digital scans of items in the collection may be provided at the discretion of the Director of Research and for an individually negotiated fee. The reproduction of materials from the Library for publication requires the permission of the Director of Research and usually requires the payment of fees.

The Director of Research, Library staff, and volunteers make every attempt to answer research questions arriving by mail, email, telephone, and fax. 

Shaker Archive Consortium

In 2009, the Library began a project to establish a consortium of of public institutions with significant collections of Shaker printed materials, photographs, and manuscripts, in order to coordinate the digitizing, labeling, and managing of those materials on the Internet.  The first phase of this effort has been funded in part by a generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation.