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A hidden history

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— “At that time, you didn’t bury black and white people next to each other in a cemetery; that was unheard of and yet another reason for non-Shakers in this period to dislike the Shakers,” said D’Angelo.

These days, there’s only one active Shaker community left, and though the lifestyle has evolved through the years, the basic beliefs remain.

“They believe in passivism, celibacy, confession of sin and communal ownership of property,” said D’Angelo. “They’re still focused on hard work in daily life.”

D’Angelo has presented her research findings at conferences before, but the lecture on Feb. 25 will include new information and is all part of a greater campaign to increase awareness about Shaker history, so she hopes the public stops by.

“This is an important part of our American heritage and something that makes Albany unique. It’s something of our own, you don’t find this anywhere else in the country and I think it’s something people should know about and I hope it makes people proud,” said D’Angelo. “I also think the stories are very interesting.”

One story she’ll tell is about a black family that joined the Shaker community in the early 19th century. Years later, the parents decided to leave the community but the children wanted to stay. The parents ended up suing the Shakers for stealing their “property.”

“That’s the kind of thing you don’t hear a lot of,” said D’Angelo.

“All Souls Are Created Equal” is at 2 p.m. on Feb. 25 at 25 Meeting House Road. A donation of $5 is suggested.

This year also marks the Shaker Heritage Society’s 35th anniversary, so there’s a full slate of programs and events in the future. On Wednesday, Feb. 29, there will be a 35th Anniversary Celebration at the 1848 Meeting House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. featuring Albany Pro Musica, dance, basket making demonstrations and food. All proceeds will benefit education programs of the society. For information about tickets or other upcoming events, visit www.shakerheritage.org or call 456-7890.

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