New Lanark World Heritage Site Blog

January 17, 2018 at 4:56 am

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Robert Owen is known for being one of New Lanark’s most enlightened mill managers, but perhaps one of the lesser known facts about Owen is that in 1825, frustrated by constant opposition to his new ideas, Robert Owen sold the Mills at New Lanark and decided to buy the settlement of Harmony in Indiana, which he renamed New Harmony.

In the less conservative climate of the New World, Owen planned to create a Utopian Community or Village of Unity and Mutual Co-operation. Owen was partnered by William Maclure, a Scottish Geologist and social experimenter who shared his belief in rational and scientific education.

Just 2 years later, in the spring of 1827 the Owen / Maclure New Harmony was abandoned after a series of disagreements within the community organisation. Despite the failure of Owen’s utopian dream, New Harmony did not disintegrate completely. Some of its most brilliant settlers remained and made significant contributions to American scientific and educational theory, study and practice.

Over the years the relationship between New Lanark and New Harmony has continued to grow, with many visits ‘across the pond’ being made by residents and representatives from both communities.

On Friday 30th October, Nancy Mangum McCaslin from New Harmony will be giving a free talk at New Lanark related to New Harmony and Jane Blaffer Owen CBE, the wife of Kenneth Dale Owen – Robert Owen’s great-great grandson.

“In 1941, Kenneth Dale Owen, great-great grandson of Robert Owen, brought his bride, Jane Blaffer Owen, to his ancestral hometown, New Harmony, Indiana, where two communal societies took root in the early 1800s: the religious Harmonie Society from Germany, who relocated and sold their entire town to Robert Owen, who together with a like-minded Scotsman and scientist William Maclure, began an educational and scientific model community based on mutual cooperation. New Harmony’s historic significance, however, had faded by the time of her arrival in the 1940s.”

Jane Blaffer Owen dedicated herself not only to the preservation and revitalization of the historic buildings but also to bringing some of the finest intellects of her time to the town. Jane Blaffer Owen recounts her activities in the posthumously published memoir New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake (published by Indiana University Press, 2015) and edited by Nancy Mangum McCaslin, who also serves on the Advisory Board of Historic New Harmony.

Nancy will give a presentation on Robert Owen & his family in New Harmony, followed by a brief documentary showing an interview with Jane Blaffer Owen, entitled Conversations in New Harmony. The free talk will take place on Friday 30th October 2015 at 2.30pm within the New Lanark River Room. Afterwards, copies of New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake will be available for sale and signings.

No booking is required for the talk. For further information please call New Lanark Trust on 01555 661345.

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