This series documents some of the activities of everyday Shaker life (and death) through historical manuscripts, photographs and ephemera, as well as later writings and postcards. Of the manuscripts handed down among the Shakers, perhaps the most unique is the bound "obituary journal." A label affixed to the inside front cover carries the name of "Mary Whitcher," suggesting that the volume belonged to her at one time. Whitcher was the granddaughter of Benjamin Whitcher, who joined the Shakers in 1782 and left his 100-acre estate in Canterbury to them. The original entries record deaths from 1784 to 1857. Each includes the decedent's name, age, cause of death and brief eulogy or prayer. Most died of consumption. A list of later deaths, 1858-1882, were added in a different hand. Only the name and date of death are noted. A different compilation of deaths is the Enfield (NH) cemetery chart, which appears to have been worked on at three different intervals. The primary recording consists of multiple pages devoted to either the north or south sides. A grid is blocked out on two facing pages and numbered along the vertical and horizontal axes. Names and dates of death are recorded in each block. The earliest and latest deaths recorded in this format are October 23, 1793 (Hannah Ferrin, South side 1:1) and November 4, 1888 (Caroline Black, North side, 14:1). More North side names were added in list format for deaths between 1892 and 1906. In a completely different hand, attached to the inside front cover is a schematic of the "South Family Cemetery." The last recorded death is August 3, 1915. (Cardinal points, along with "Church" were the usual "family" divisions within a Shaker village.) The "Record of Admission and Deaths" is a 53-page typed document that lists each members name, birth place, date admitted to the Society, and date of death or leave.
The recipes in the booklet Lavina Clifford gave to Lucy Ann Shepard in 1855 not only include instructions on making dishes such as cakes, gingerbread and pickled onions, but household items as well, such as Indian chemical soap, cologne and shoe blacking. The four samples of ephemera mounted on a single sheet of paper consist of seed packets of winter squash and Japan musk melon, along with labels of poppy extract and muriatic acid dilute, a cleanser used on masonry. The "medicinal gardening" file consists of a transcript of an excerpt from "Catalogue of Medicinal Plants," which was published in 1851. The entire publication is available online and referenced below. This transcript, along with two others in the "Textiles" file, are on Museum letterhead, suggesting the Ziegets transcribed these from other documents in their collection. Sister Marguerite no doubt prepared the handwritten version of her article entitled, "Notes on Shaker Herbs and Herbalists." A photocopy of the article as published in the Spring 1951 issue of "The Herb Grower Magazine" is also included. One of the most detailed writings is A. K. Mosley's description of the (East) Canterbury village. He explains the layout of the village as well as the different buildings found within each "family" section. While this undated manuscript appears to have never been published, Mosley authored at least two other studies of Shaker architecture, published between 1939 and 1987.
The series also includes a small number of images in an assortment of formats; namely stereoscopic photographs, albumen silver prints and postcards. Additional images can be found in the numerous newspaper and magazine articles included in "Shaker References," a scrapbook of published writings collected by Sister Marguerite and assembled by Irene. (As noted in the series scope and content, it is likely that Irene added to the collection.) Bulletins and other writings printed in the late 19th- and early 20th-century are also included. The writings range from profiles of various Shaker villages and members to the popularity of Shaker furniture for sale or on view in museum exhibitions. Irene annotated many of the pages, usually to cite additional references of the featured person or place.