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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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What began in 1929 as a summer home project for Irene and Julius Zieget became their thirty-year commitment to a collection that would epitomize the Shaker adage, "Hands to work, hearts to God."
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, JULIUS ZIEGET (1888-1966) was the second of Conrad and Dorothy Zieget's four children. He studied civil engineering at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), and upon graduating in 1910, returned home to work as a highway engineer for the state. Zieget also taught engineering at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Around this time, he began studying law at the University of Maryland, but with America's entry into World War I, Zieget delayed any legal practice and joined the Naval Militia of the Maryland National Guard. Sent to a section base in the seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, to serve as commanding officer, Zieget met Irene Norman at her friend's summer home. The couple were married around 1919 at the Unitarian Church in West Newton, Massachusetts.
IRENE ZIEGET (1885-1977) was born in Massachusetts (perhaps Plymouth). According to the 1910 federal census, Irene was a hospital nurse. According to her own account, she also served during the war and was stationed for a time in France. Soon after their marriage, the Ziegets moved to New York, where Julius worked at SKF Industries, a manufacturer of ball and roller bearings. It is here that Zieget met John Story Jenks, a trustee (and former officer) of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (the original name of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Jenks recruited Zieget for the position of Secretary at the Museum, which he accepted in 1928. In 1934, Zieget took on the additional role of Treasurer, and in 1944, museum president R. Sturgis Ingersoll appointed Zieget as the first Executive Director of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. Formerly the Graphic Sketch Club, the Fleisher Memorial was founded by bequest to continue as an art school under the direction of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Zieget continued serving in these multiple capacities until his retirement in 1964.
In 1920, their only child Marcia was born. Around the same time, the Ziegets purchased "Breezy Hill," a large 18th century clapboard house situated on one hundred acres in Peterborough, NH. This would be their summer home for forty years. (The affluent Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore was their permanent residence.) In 1929, the Ziegets decided to redecorate one of the guest rooms at Breezy Hill with Shaker furniture and crafts. They made their first purchases--a Shaker bed and dining room chair from Edward Demings Andrews, who wrote about the Shakers and who along with his wife Faith were avid collectors from Pittsfield, MA. Andrews directed the Ziegets to the Hancock Society, a Shaker community near Pittsfield. It was the first of four Shaker villages the Ziegets would visit fairly regularly for nearly the next thirty summers. Of the other villages in Mt. Lebanon, NY, Canterbury, NH and Sabbathday Lake, NY, it was Canterbury that provided most of the Ziegets' acquisitions. (At Canterbury, the Ziegets also acquired pieces made in the Shaker villages of Enfield, NH and Union Village, Ohio, both of which closed before 1929.) In making their purchases, the Ziegets developed rather close relationships with several of the Shaker sisters and came to know their life stories as well as the history of their villages, founders and later elders who at one time were in possession of the objects the Ziegets acquired.
Of the Shaker sisters who helped the Ziegets develop their collection, MARGUERITE FROST (1892-1971) was the most instrumental. Sister Marguerite was born in Marblehead, MA, and was the granddaughter of the folk artist John Orne Johnson Frost, who at the age of 70 took up painting and wood carving. Sister Marguerite joined the Shaker village at Canterbury when she was 10. Eleven years later she began teaching until 1936 when she began working as a nurse in the infirmary. In 1957 she was named an eldress, and in 1966 appointed to the ministry. She wrote a number of articles on the Shakers, and as a young woman played the saxophone in a seven-piece Shaker orchestra.
Irene met Sister Marguerite during her first whirlwind Shaker excursion of 1929, coming to Canterbury after making stops at Hancock Village and Mt. Lebanon. In addition to the annual summer visits, Sister Marguerite and Irene corresponded throughout the year, even after the Ziegets stopped coming annually to Canterbury. During that first encounter with Sister Marguerite, along with Eldress Josephine Wilson, Irene purchased from them two baskets, an iron bucket, a wooden dipper, a chest of drawers, three handwoven rugs, closet pegs and three pictures. (In "Our Shaker Adventure," Irene's 1967 account of how she and her husband built their Shaker collection, she mentions also corresponding with Sister Rosetta Stephens of Mt. Lebanon from 1931 until the sister's death in 1947. The whereabouts of such correspondence is unknown.)
According to Irene, her summer visits to the Shaker villages during the "early years" were made alone as Julius (whom she referred to in letters as "Doc") was tied up in Museum business or preoccupied with supervising his daughter's riding lessons. There was also a period when neither made the trek. Between 1936 and 1938, the Ziegets summered in Europe. A cyclone in September 1938 damaged Breezy Hill, keeping the Ziegets away even longer. With the 1942 to 1944 gas rationing brought about by America's involvement in World War II, the Ziegets did not return to Breezy Hill until 1945 and could only open the house the following year. Despite their absence, the Ziegets' enthusiasm for collecting Shaker never waned, and in 1948 Julius decided the entire house should be furnished in the Shaker style. Their ambitious mission came to an abrupt halt in 1957 when the Ziegets learned that a highway was to be built that would divide their Breezy Hill property in half. The Ziegets thus decided to sell their longtime summer home. Yet, while having to give up Breezy Hill, the Ziegets did not give up on their Shaker collection. Based on Marguerite's letters to Irene, she was still making inquiries about Shaker items for purchase at least as late as 1961.
The next year, the Ziegets were one of the major lenders to "The Shakers: their arts and crafts," which the Philadelphia Museum of Art organized and exhibited from April 19 to May 20, 1962. Approximately 160 objects from the Ziegets' collection were on display. The Spring 1962 Museum Bulletin was devoted to the exhibition and included an essay by Sister Marguerite on Shaker prose and poetry as well as an exhibition checklist. The Ziegets made a gift of their collection to the Museum in December of 1963, just several months prior to Julius's retirement. Their gift consisted of more than 350 items, including furniture, inspirational drawings, utilitarian objects, such as oval boxes, buckets and brushes, costumes and textiles, rare books and manuscripts. Their daughter, Marcia Zieget Riegé (1920-1983), later gave the Museum's Library a number of rare books and contemporary scholarly studies of the Shakers.
Certain historical and divine names appear regularly in the manuscript material in this collection. A very rudimentary sketch of each follows. Most often cited is MOTHER ANN, or Ann Lee, who brought the Shaker faith to this country when she and eight others came to America in 1774 to escape persecution. They settled near Albany, NY (in an area that later became Watervliet, the first Shaker settlement in America). Before leaving England, Ann is believed to have experienced the second coming of Christ while she was in prison. When Ann recounted her vision to her fellow Shaker brothers and sisters, those present were also overcome with their own millennial experience. Because of this event, Sister Ann was considered the instrument of this second coming, or rebirth, and from that moment became known as Mother Ann. Also from that moment on, the Shakers would refer to themselves as "Believers in Christ's Second Appearing." Through Mother Ann and her numerous revelations, the guiding principles of Shakerism were established; namely, the confession of sin, a relinquishing of worldly goods (a simple lifestyle) and celibacy, all of which would lead to perfect holiness. In so doing, the Shakers "saw themselves...preparing the way for the new era when God's will was done on earth." By the time of Mother Ann's death in 1784, the number of converts to Shakerism had increased greatly, especially after the American Revolution. It is only after Mother Ann, that the Shakers, now persecuted in America, established communal lifestyles, in part as a measure of safety. The first was Mount Lebanon Shaker Society, in New Lebanon, NY. It would serve as the largest Shaker community from 1785 to 1947.
Shakers believe God is both father and mother, male and female. HOLY MOTHER WISDOM is the female aspect of God. From this belief in the duality of God comes the Shaker belief and practice in the equality of the sexes. During the Era of Manifestations (1837-1850), also known as the Era of Mother Ann's Work, certain members of the Shaker community, often children, were visited by heavenly spirits. These Shakers were considered "instruments" in delivering the spiritual gifts of song, dance and visions, which would be recorded sometimes in drawing but often in writing and later copied and passed on by other Shaker brothers and sisters. The purpose of these manifestations was to provide a "knowledge of heaven and those who dwell there, and to instruct how Believers should act and believe." During this period, the leaders of the Shaker faith (the Central Ministry) introduced what they hoped would be one way to establish a more structured ministry. It was the "cleansing gift," which was introduced in December 1841, just before the anticipated visit of Holy Mother Wisdom on Christmas Day. The ritual of the cleansing gift, called "Mother Ann's Sweeping Gift," consisted of prayer, fasting and intense cleaning, both literally and, along with singing and dancing, in pantomime. In her visit, which was intended to restore order and harmony, Holy Mother Wisdom dictated advice and rules and credited herself with being the "Infinite Wisdom."
FATHER JOSEPH refers to Joseph Meachem, a former Baptist minister from Enfield, CT (the site of his Shaker community, which was completely separate from the one in Enfield, NH). Upon the death in 1787 of James Whittaker, who assumed leadership after Mother Ann, Meachem became their religious head. He was the first American-born leader. It is Meachem who organized the existing Shaker settlements in New York and New England into bishoprics. Because of this uniting of communities, the Shakers altered their name to the "United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing."
Former Quakers JAMES WARDLEY and his wife Jane founded the Shakers in England in 1747. Originally called "Shaking Quakers," the Wardleys represented a sect that hoped to regain the ecstatic form of worship the Quakers had adopted from the 17th century French Prophets (or Camisards) but had since abandoned. The Wardleys preached a message of repent and preparation for Christ's second coming. They were the leaders at the time Ann Lee joined in 1758.
ABRAHAM OF OLD refers to the Old Testament figure considered the founding father of the Israelites, therefore making Christ his descendant (as in "seed of Abraham").
- New York: Paulist Press, 1983. Whitson, Robley Edward, ed. The Shakers: Two Centuries of Spiritual Reflection.
- New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. Kirk, John T. The Shaker World: Art, Life, Belief.
- Irene Zieget, 1967. Zieget, Irene N. Our Shaker Adventure.
- Ardmore, PA, 1960. Zieget, Irene N. Julius Zieget: a Sketch.
- Ancestry.com. Ancestry: Library Edition. 1900 United States Federal Census, s.v. "Julius Zieget."
- _____. _____. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, s.v. "Irene N. Zieget."
- _____. _____. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, s.v. "Marcia Zieget Riege."
- Tom Davenport Films, 1974. folkstreams.net (accessed Mar. 14, 2013) Davenport, Tom and Frank DeCola. "The Shakers."
- Marblehead Magazine. Legends Inc., copyright 1995-2007. Hercher, Gail Pike. "J.O.J. Frost: the man with a wheelbarrow full of art."
The Zieget Shaker Collection Papers underscore Irene and Julius Zieget's reliance on members of the Shaker community in acquiring an extensive collection of their art and crafts. The papers also include some of those acquisitions. The first series "Collection Development" pertains to the former and consists primarily of correspondence dating between 1929 and 1968 and a photographically illustrated journal. Most of the letters are from Sister Marguerite Frost of Canterbury, NH. Irene Zieget assembled the journal in which she recounts the members of the Shaker community she and Julius came to know and the artifacts associated with them. A hanging paper tag on which is listed the book titles in the Ziegets' collection is also in Irene's hand and included here.
Most of the remaining documentation is manuscript material that comprises a small but significant part of the Ziegets' collection, which primarily consisted of furniture, inspirational drawings, utensils, tools, textiles and a number of rare publications. Much of the manuscript material traces to the Shaker villages of Canterbury, NH (historically named "East Canterbury") and Mt. Lebanon, NY, and to a lesser extent, Enfield, NH, Alfred, ME and Old Chatham, NY. Based on Irene's inscriptions in many of these items, they were made available by Sister Marguerite between 1957 and 1959. The material is organized here in two series, each representing an aspect of Shakerism. Documentation of the daily activities performed in a Shaker community--outside of worship--makes up Series II, "Shaker Communal Life." Material consists of a journal and other recordings of deaths--expressed in three very different compilations, a recipe booklet, writings and ephemera pertaining to gardening and other household chores, as well as a description of a "typical" Shaker village. There are several images of Shaker women and girls as well as a few examples of Shaker buildings. The most comprehensive documentation of Shaker life is the scrapbook compiled by Irene Zieget for Sister Marguerite Frost, her long-time contact at Canterbury. Although Irene credits Sister Marguerite for collecting the "references," she no doubt added a number of articles, such as the ads for the Philadelphia retailer, John Wanamaker. In Series III, "Shaker Spiritual Life," are manifestations, cards of love, blessings, instructions and hymns--all recorded neatly in the distinctive and decorative Shaker hand. There are also two bound manuscripts of visions and testimonies, as well as a slim volume that explains the layout of the Holy City. Approximately half of the items in this series are dated, circa 1840s.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 57, no. 273 (Spring, 1962). "The Shakers: Their Arts & Crafts."
- Barry Horton: Traditional Woodworker, copyright 2003 (accessed April 1, 2013) Horton, Barry. "A Little about the Shakers."
- Hog River Journal (Spring 2005) (accessed April 1, 2013) Miller, Mike. "Enfield's Shaker Legacy."
- Canterbury Shaker Village, copyright 2010 (accessed April 1, 2013) "The Shakers." Discover and Learn.
- Shaker Historic Trail. A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. National Park Service "The Shakers."
- Wikipedia, last modified April 8, 2013. "Shakers."
July 2012. A researcher provided the photocopy of an article published in the Spring 1951 issue of The Herb Grower Magazine.
From the gift Julius and Irene Zieget made to the Museum in 1963, periodic transfers of material were made to the Archives from the curatorial offices. The Library also transferred material, including at least one item that was part of a later gift from Marcia Zieget Riegé.
These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from Joan Root.
- Frankfurt, KY: A.G. Hodges, 1832. Transferred to library. "The Shakers. Speech of Robert Wickliffe: in the Senate of Kentucky--Jan. 1831.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
- Finding Aid Date
- Funded by a grant from Joan Root
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
The Zieget Shaker Collection Papers are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.
Almost all the correspondence is from Sister Marguerite Frost to Irene Zieget. Although she includes a few lines of small talk in her letters, Sister Marguerite focuses on writing about objects or the Shaker associated with an object--her own version of provenance research. Since Shakers were instructed to retain anonymity, the maker of an object often remained unknown. However, the identity of the Shaker(s) who had the object in their possession was often given. Sister Marguerite's letters elaborate on the lives of those past owners, or at the least, offer a guess as to the likely name associated with a set of initials marking an object. Her narratives occasionally touch upon the historical development of certain Shaker industries and innovations. In her own distinctive hand, Irene occasionally noted in the margins the topic described in Sister Marguerite's letters. There are no copies of Irene's letters.
The three letters comprising the "Various" file are in reply to research inquiries Irene made. One is from Bertha Lindsay, another sister at Canterbury, who in her letter provides a list of past woodworkers from the village. In the "third party" correspondence, a Massachusetts mayor and U.S. Senator offer birthday wishes, in 1939 and 1941 respectively, to Myra Green, yet another Canterbury resident. The letters marked Sister Myra's 104th and 106th birthdays.
Also of note in this series is "A Shaker Picture Book," Irene's rather creative approach in cataloging acquisitions. This illustrative journal consists of photographs of the Shakers who sold to the Ziegets as well as those of the 18th and 19th centuries who at one time were in possession of the objects the Ziegets purchased. The text consists of brief biographies, as well as a list of the objects that particular Shaker provided. Alfred J. Wyatt, the Museum's photographer from 1955 to 1976, provided the images. No purchase prices are cited; nor is there any reference to the manuscript material that comprises the remainder of this collection.
An even more detailed account of the acquisitions made by the Ziegets is Irene's self-published "Our Shaker Adventure," which is cited in the historical note. A discrepancy, however, should be noted. In her published account, Irene refers to two scrapbooks, which could be the picture book noted above, and the scrapbook included in Series II. The page number and content she notes in at least one reference does not correspond to the scrapbook. The content of the picture book, which is unnumbered, doesn't correspond either even if one counts out the pages. Since some of the items she references can be found on different pages in the scrapbook, perhaps the discrepancy reflects a later change in the page ordering of the scrapbook.
Alphabetical by format.Physical Description
0.25 linear feet
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.
- Albany: Van Benthuysen, printer, [1851?]. Digital Collection. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Catalogue of medicinal plants, barks, roots, seeds, flowers, and select powders...
- Lexington, MA: Museum of Our National Heritage, 1992. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage. Receiving the faith: the Shakers of Canterbury, New Hampshire.
- (Fig. 103. Plan of Canterbury, NH, 1848). New York: W W Norton & Co., 1986. Sprigg, June. Shaker Design.
- (accessed April 1, 2013) Steinhard, Jim. Canterbury Shaker Village, NH Photos.
Alphabetical by folder title.Physical Description
1.25 linear feet
Like a remarkable counterbalance to their ecstatic forms of worship is the meticulous, delicate and decorative style in which the Shakers recorded their spiritual blessing and songs. The manifestations, cards of love and hymns that comprise this series exemplify this distinctive Shaker style. Those of note are described below. The descriptions make reference to the Shaker understanding of God and other heavenly entities, including the founders of the Shaker faith. (See the Historical Note for a brief discussion of these figures.) The items are also described in the context of the Shaker belief in spiritual visitations and messages transmitted through members divinely chosen as "instruments" of such communications. Of the items dated, most were executed during the 1840s, coinciding with the "Era of Manifestations."
Of significant note are the two volumes of hymns and songs, executed in what Irene Zieget described as the "Shaker way of writing music in the beginning." In a fanciful script, lyrics are written above musical notes expressed by letters rather than symbols on a musical bar. In the "Book of Visions" that belonged to a Margaret Appleton, different handwritings suggest more than one recorder. The book includes recordings of visions as well as reflections, addresses, eulogies, obituaries and poems, including one entitled, "What is music." "Testimonies and Visions" is yet another recording of spiritual experiences in Canterbury. Other bound manuscripts include "Explanation of the Holy City," which was intended to accompany a map of the Holy City. (The map is held in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, accession no. 1963-160-5). The volume consists of an index with descriptions of the divisions and suburbs comprising the heavenly kingdom. It also includes a discussion of the use of numbers in spiritual writings; specifically the numbers seven, ten and twelve. More earthly guidance is given in "Holy Mother Wisdom's Means for Protecting the Children." The slim volume includes something of a preface explaining the origin of the book; namely, James Wardley appears to an "instrument" to explain that the box delivered earlier by an angel holds the book.
The remaining items in this series consist of three sets of spiritual writings, recorded on loose sheets of paper. Most of the twenty "cards of love" are noted on one side as messages from "Mother Ann" and from the "Holy Savior" on verso. Several others are "Words on a Card" from Holy Mother Wisdom. Each card is addressed to a particular individual, some of whom are recipients of both types of cards. Intended as an accompaniment to the cards is a small booklet, "Holy Mother's Words Concerning the Cards." As the booklet is dated August 20, 1842, it appears to pertain only to her cards, all of which are dated July 10, 1842, which would therefore be the date of Holy Mother's "visit." The cards of love from Mother Ann carry later dates. All but one of the twenty-three "Manifestations from Mt. Lebanon" are messages from Holy Mother Wisdom, Mother Ann or Father Joseph. Somewhat different is the birthday ode to "Elder Arthur," who was celebrating his sixty-first birthday. The ode includes instructions that it be sung to the tune of Civil War song "Marching to Georgia." An itemized list of both sets of spiritual writings is included in the checklist to the Museum's 1962 exhibition. The items in both sets follow the order given in the checklist.
The last set of spiritual messages is the most creative, visually. The "Olive Leaf...love and blessing from Abraham of Old..." consists of five sheets, individually addressed. Crafted in 1844-1845, each is a lengthy message, recorded on both sides of green paper cut in the shape of an olive leaf.
Alphabetical by folder title.Physical Description
1 linear foot