Cloak made by E. J. Neale & Co., Mount Lebanon, NY, ca. 1895. E. J. Neale & Co. made an average of 132 cloaks per year from 1890 through the beginning of the Second World War. The cloaks were a significant source of income for the Shakers.

Photograph of the Emma J. Neale & Co. Workroom, Church Family, Mount Lebanon, NY, ca. 1910. Sister Emma J. Neale (front left) and her natural sister, Sadie Neale (just immediately behind her) are engaged in the variety of steps in making cloaks.

Knitted wool sweater in "Yale" or navy blue, Hart & Shepard, Canterbury, New Hampshire, ca. 1900. Its label reads, "Shaker Sweater. Genuine. Hart & Shepard, Shakers, E. Canterbury, N. Y."

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

Online Exhibition

The Cloak and Sweater Industries 1880-1950

Shaker sisters manufactured various styles of cloaks at villages in New York, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Modeled on traditional Shaker style, the cloaks became popular and stylish among non-Shaker women. First Lady Frances Cleveland is said to have worn a Shaker cloak to her husband’s second presidential inauguration. The sale of cloaks at Mount Lebanon earned the Shakers $144,700 between 1881 and 1929, over $3 million in today’s dollars. At Canterbury and Enfield in New Hampshire, the sisters ran a successful business manufacturing knit sweaters, which were often sold to colleges such as Yale and Dartmouth as “letter sweaters” in the school’s color.