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Utopian Bibliography


The following books and publications provide more information about Sonoma County's utopian experiments. Some may be out of print or difficult to find. Books available from the Sonoma County Library are noted with a parenthetical (SCL).


Dictionary of American Communal and Utopian History by Robert Fogarty (1980).

New World Utopias by Paul Kagan (1975).


California's Utopian Colonies by Robert V. Hine (1983, revised; originally published 1953; second printing 1966).
Fountain Grove, Icaria-Speranza, Altruria. The preface briefly discusses Morning Star Ranch and Wheeler Ranch. (SCL)

Wild Oats in Eden by Harvey J. Hansen and Jeanne Thurlow Miller; Foreword by Gaye Lebaron (1962; second printing 1976).
Chapter "Eden of the West" describes Fountain Grove, Icaria-Speranza, Altruria, and Preston. (SCL)

A Photographic History of Icaria-Speranza edited by Dale W. Ross.
Published by the National Icarian Heritage Society.

Les Icarians by Robert V. Sutton (1994; English translation).
General study of Icarianism in America, including the Icaria-Speranza commune.

Shadows on the Land: Sonoma County's 19th Century Utopian Colonies by Varene Anderson (1992).
Well-researched and well-written master's thesis available at the Sonoma State University Library. Details histories of Fountain Grove, Icaria-Speranza, Altruria, and Preston.

Go Tell It on the Mountain: An Account of Madame Emily Preston ,with Prefatorial Notes on the Preston Papers by Janice Payne (1986).
Master's thesis; full description/explanation of Madame Preston's theology and the Preston community available in Sonoma State Univ. Library.

The '60s

Communes in the Counterculture: Origins, Theories, Styles of Life by Keith Melville (1972).

The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Counter Cultures in America by Laurence Veysey (1973).

Communes USA: A Personal Tour by Robert Fairfield (1971).
Excellent chapters on Morning Star Ranch and Wheeler Ranch. (SCL; the Annex in Santa Rosa has photocopied chapters on Morning Star Ranch and Wheeler Ranch in clip files.)

Community on the American Frontier: Separate but Not Alone by Robert V. Hine (1985).
Epilogue describes destruction by authorities of Morning Star Ranch and Wheeler Ranch. (SCL)

Loose Change by Sara Davidson (1977)
Chapter 21 contains a distillation of Davidson's Harper's June 1970 article about Wheeler Ranch, "Open Land: Getting back to the Communal Garden." Better, though, to find the full article on microfiche at SCL. (SCL)

The Present

Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett (1988).
How co-housing works.

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From the July 3-10, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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