Portrait of Sister Emma J. Neale, Church Family, Mount Lebanon, NY, ca. 1885, made from an earlier cabinet card portrait.

Tailor's counter used by Sister Emma J. Neale to make cloaks.

Break Every Yoke: Shakers, gender equality, and women’s suffrage

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Sister Emma Jane Neale (1847-1943)

Sister Emma Jane Neale, a Shaker sister who came to the community when she was only eight years old, became a trustee at Mount Lebanon in 1882 at the age of 35. In charge of finances, she proved conservative and shrewd, managing real estate and timber sales and negotiating land rights for railroad expansion. In 1935 she invested 543 shares of the Shakers’ stock in public companies including General Electric, New England Power, Springfield Gas Light, and AT&T. Neale also revived the Shaker cloak business, taking out a patent in 1902 for the long wool cloaks with silk linings and ties and marketing them under the name E.J. Neale & Co., Mount Lebanon, NY.