The Shaker experience in Harvard and Shirley began in June of 1781 when Ann Lee and a group of early Shaker leaders were invited by those communities to visit on a proselytizing journey from the first community in Watervliet, NY.
Shaker communities devoted their lives to God. This unique community lived communally, practiced equality between the sexes, developed distinctive agricultural and manufacturing practices, and forms of worship.
At their height in about 1850, the Harvard Shakers had 150 members, and was considered the spiritual center of the Shaker world. Other Shaker communities existed in New York, elsewhere in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.
The Shakers did not practice procreation, so their communities faded over time, and Sabbathday Lake in Poland Spring, ME is the last remaining Shaker community.