Letter from William Owen to Robert Owen

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

This manuscript letter opens with William referring to a letter he received from Captain McDonald which was addressed to the community at New Harmony. William writes of being happy to hear of Owen's safe arrival in America as it had been reported that "you were all drowned", and of his delight in hearing that Owen had managed to obtain teachers for the community at New Harmony, as at present they were without any. However, the imminent arrival of the teachers at New Harmony may prove problematic as they are "already very much crowded" even more so than they have been since the community started.

Discussion of events at New Harmony follow, with William explaining that they [the community members] were "astonished" that Owen thought their letter to be "unbusinesslike" and felt even more bemused to find he had applied for "so many hands" to be members of the community; it will be "impossible to give them homes or even rooms". Further details regarding the community's present incumbents and what skills are in shortage are outlined for Owen's benefit to enlighten him of their needs.

Applications for membership of the community are being received from various quarters "almost every day" and more of these have been accepted than turned away. There is little possibility of any new houses being built for any arrivals Owen's advertisement may bring, as they are without almost all of the supplies required and are unable to get them elsewhere. They want to build more houses, but such is the work every other task at the community would have to stop and that is impossible.

William paints a stark picture of conditions at New Harmony, telling Owen that, in addition to the lack of timber for building and other commodities useful for the improving the community, they are equally lacking the necessities to keep the inhabitants warm and fed. In terms of bedding they have "no feathers, no ?, no sheets and no blankets".


Stamped number: 54


Geographical Names