Segments in this Video

"Bow Like the Willow Tree" (01:43)


Here quotes by Thomas Merton and Eldris Anna White as well as a Shaker spiritual.

"Authentic Christianity" (02:00)

The world called them Shakers because of their dancing, but they called themselves the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. They practiced social, economic, and spiritual equality before the rest of the country

Mother Anne (02:05)

Shakerism was founded by Ann Lee, an illiterate English factory worker. She came to America to spread her gospel in 1774. A few Shakers remain in 200 year old villages in Maine and New Hampshire.

Finding God in Craftsmanship (02:45)

The Shakers strove for perfection aiming to turn Earth into Heaven. They invented machines to reduce labor and designed their own furniture.

Opening the Gospel 1770 (05:59)

Lee had a vision of Jesus and became Mother Anne to a group of Shakers that moved to America. She was accused of treason, witchcraft, and fanaticism before her death in 1784.

Gathering Into Order 1785 (04:05)

The religion took its form after Lee's death. The first meeting house was constructed in 1785. Thousands of people joined the church.

"The World's People" (02:11)

Hear quotes that reflect opinions people held about Shakers in the early 19th century.

Dance (03:13)

Shakers believed dancing brought them closer to God. They only practiced frenzied dances until the death of Mother Anne after which point, dance became organized.

Hearts to God (02:01)

Men and women lived separately in Shaker dwellings. Celibacy was at the center of their desire to be closer to God.

The Kentucky Revival 1800 (04:00)

In 1805, the Mount Lebanon Ministry sent three Shakers to gather others. The new group established Pleasant Hill and constructed perfect limestone buildings.

Putting Into Practice (06:29)

Men and women performed different chores beginning early each morning. Work was rotated to ensure all members learned all trades. Labor was a way to serve God.

Reaping the Harvest (05:42)

Sixty years after the Shakers came to America, 6,000 members were thriving in 17 communities. They were generous with non-members and bought a slave to prevent his sale.

Renewing the Faith 1840 (05:12)

The spirit of Mother Anne appeared to four girls and led to a period of reinvigorated spiritualism. Elder Frederic Evans met with President Lincoln to discuss pacifism.

Decline (10:50)

Shaker numbers diminished after the Civil War. They could not compete with mass production. A former Shaker recalls the moment she decided to leave the community.

Credits: Ken Burns: The Shakers—Hands to Work, Hearts to God (01:31)

Credits: Ken Burns: The Shakers—Hands to Work, Hearts to God

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Ken Burns: The Shakers—Hands to Work, Hearts to God

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



A poignant film by Ken Burns portrays 200 years of Shaker life in America, guided by recollections of three surviving members and archival material. Explore every aspect of a strange, noble sect that produced some of the greatest architecture and furniture in U.S. history. This story of devotion, invention, ingenuity, simple crafts, and dance was filmed at existing Shaker locations, with music re-created from authentic songs.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL131291

Copyright date: ©1985

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.