The Shaker Heritage Society offers lectures to community organizations, social clubs, church groups, college classes, and other organizations. Lectures may be presented at the museum or off-site. They can be tailored to fit the interests of your group. Some examples of topics that have been covered in the past are: general history of the Albany Shakers, race and gender in Shaker communities, and Shaker design.

Fee: $60 on-site and $75 off-site. Mileage is charged for sites more than 10 miles from the Society’s offices.
Booking Procedure: Call (518) 456-7890 x23 or email shakereducator@gmail.com. On-site lectures are not available October through February.

Shaker Senior Seminars

Please contact Michelle Arthur at (518) 456-7890 x23 or shakereducator@gmail.com for more information or to book a program.

About the Programs

Social Activities for Seniors Albany, NYThe Shaker Heritage Society has developed a  series of interactive classes specifically designed for senior audiences. Through these classes, we help participants discover the fascinating world of the Shakers. Participants have the opportunity to learn about the everyday items that the Shakers invented, where they lived locally, and how they played an integral role in American history. We offer both hands-on sessions and academic lectures.

Social activities For seniors in Albany, NY!

Each hands-on session is a multi-sensory experience combining lecture, discussion and  activities to reinforce the information presented.  These programs allow your residents or members to explore this fascinating local historical landmark without ever leaving your site.

The hands-on classes are offered at two different levels to allow community organizations, nursing homes or retirement communities to customize programs for their unique audience.

Level One classes are primarily for individuals with physical and mental abilities limited by dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.  These classes are half an hour in length, and a brief introduction to Shaker beliefs and history is followed by a basic hands-on activity.

Level Two sessions are designed for seniors with standard physical and mental abilities. These sessions last approximately an hour.

The academic lectures are an opportunity for individuals to learn more about a particular subject.  Inquiry and discussion are encouraged.  Flyers and other materials are offered so that   participants can continue to learn about the topic after the session has ended.
Hands-On Programs
(Available as both Level One and Level Two Classes)

The Fabrics of their Lives: Shaker Textiles

While the Shakers were known for their simple garments, they were also recognized for producing high quality fabrics and accessories.  View images of textiles from the Shaker  Heritage Society collection and examine reproduction garments. Try spinning on a drop spindle and weaving on a loom and take home samples of natural fibers and fabrics.

Solemn Songs and Spirited Dances: Shaker Music

Singing and dancing were integral parts of Shaker life and worship.  Listen to recordings of actual Shaker brothers and sisters singing traditional music.  View detailed images of the 1848 Meeting House, built specifically to enhance the sound of vocal music and the  experience of dancing.  Try singing a Shaker song and learn the movements of a basic dance.  Participants will receive a collectible copy of the song Simple Gifts to keep.

Reading the Past, Writing the Future: Shaker Documents

Shaker documents provide a window to the past that help us realize what daily life was like in the Watervliet Community.  Examine photo reproductions of nineteenth century journals, letters and accounts and discover some of the tips and tricks historians use to decipher historic manuscripts.  Try your hand at writing using a dip pen and ink.  Write a note to a friend and learn how to fold and seal letters the way they did in the nineteenth century.

Stews, Biscuits and Pies: Shaker Cooking

Truly a feast for the senses and the mind!  The Shakers were known for their delicious, hearty and healthy food.  This unique program encourages collaboration between the Shaker Heritage Society and your dietetic staff.  Using original Shaker recipes, your staff can create a  scrumptious, nourishing meal to feed your residents.  A SHS program presenter will then visit your group to share information about Shaker food, discuss their thoughts on the meal and explore everyone’s personal memories of favorite foods, holiday meals and family dishes.  Food and food preparation is the responsibility of the host organization’s dietetic staff.

Clover, Comfrey and Chamomile: Shaker Herbs

This session introduces the Shaker plant and herb industries. Learn what plants were used to dye    fabric, treat illnesses and flavor foods. Sniff samples of herbs from our extensive garden. Discover how the Shakers marketed their products and gained a trusted reputation in the farming and medical communities. Try grinding herbs with a mortar and pestle and create fragrant sachets that you can keep in a drawer or closet.

Plain and Simple: Shaker Design

Learn how the Shakers constructed furniture and buildings and discover how their creations influenced modern design and pop culture.  View drawings and photographs of the Watervliet Shakers’ buildings, both as they looked historically and how they appear today.  Use a stereoscope to view three dimensional images of the Shakers, their buildings and landscape. Study authentic reproduction Shaker pieces and paint a shaker style box for storing small treasures.
Academic Lectures
(Available for Level Two audiences only)

The Surprising Shakers: Unexpected Experiences, Practices and Events in Shaker Life

Did the Shakers drink alcohol?  Smoke tobacco?  Keep pets?  Did people ever leave the Shaker community and get married?  These are all questions that we regularly hear at the Shaker Heritage Society.   The answers are complicated and often depend upon the year, the community and the individual.  Learn about the Shakers’ rules and how they were occasionally broken.  Hear fascinating stories gleaned from Shaker journals and newspaper articles.

The Shaker Definition of Community

What was it really like to live in a Shaker community?   How did people become members?  Who were the leaders?  Who cooked for the dozens of Shakers?  Learn the answers to these questions and many more when you hear about everyday life in the Shaker  community.  Using primary sources, including  photographs, journals and newspaper articles, discover the stories of the men and women who lived as  Shakers in this region.

All Souls are Created Equal: Race and Gender in the Watervliet Shaker Community

This academic lecture explores the experiences of women and African American Shakers.  In Shaker communities, men and women shared power and  African Americans were embraced as equal brothers and sisters.  However, friction between Shaker ways and worldly laws led to surprising legal battles and changes in New York State laws.  Join us as we learn about these little known aspects of Shaker history.

We are able to customize programs upon request.

Please contact us to discuss how we can best assist your community or organization.

Shakereducator@gmail.com (518) 456-7890 x23


Shaker Senior Seminars – 2016 Program Price List

All programs are $75.00. Mileage is charged for sites more than 10 miles from the Society’s offices.

The following programs have an additional $25.00 fee to cover the cost of materials:

–          Plain and Simple

–          The Fabrics of their Lives

–          Clover, Comfrey and Chamomile

–          Reading the Past, Writing the Future

The Shaker Heritage Society is a non-for-profit organization and these programs help support our mission.

If these costs create a hardship for your organization,  we encourage you to contact us to discuss other options.


The development of these programs are made possible through a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts.

Programs and Events