Charleston, Max Papers, 1931-1965

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Charleston, Max, b. ca. 1872

Title: Papers, 1931-1965

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection: 0.33 cubic feet

Location Number: Mss. A C477

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a 543-page typewritten unpublished manuscript completed in 1931 by Max Charleston, The Shakers of Kentucky: the Story of a Strange Sect. The manuscript is a generalized history of the Shakers, especially the communities in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, South Union, Kentucky, and North Union, Ohio. The manuscript covers a variety of topics including their religious practices, industries, and fashion.

Also included are eight (8) miscellaneous correspondences about The Shakers of Kentucky: three (3) typewritten rejection letters dated 1932 from The MacMillan Company Publishers’ Religious Books Department (New York), The Bobbs-Merrill Company Publishers (Indianapolis), and the Duffield & Green Publishers (New York), two (2) letters addressed to the Filson Club in Oct., 1936 and November 11, 1965, as well as three (3) typewritten letters from Max Charleston concerning the sale of his manuscript. Some of the correspondences reference the Great Depression (1929-1939).

The photographs taken by Charleston to accompany his manuscript have been transferred to the Filson’s photograph collection. They are now cataloged under the Max Charleston Photograph Collection (019PC27).

This collection consists of two separate accessions: 033z1 and 75×34.  It was formerly cataloged under Mss. F289.8/C477.


Biographical Note

According to the 1920 census, Max Charleston was a white man born around 1872 in Scotland. He immigrated to the United States of America in 1916. By 1920, he was a single man boarding in a house on Lexington Street in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky with Winfred S. Gabhart (32), Madie Gabhart (37), Lucille Gabhart (5), and Margaret Gabhart (71). His occupation was listed as a waged or salaried editor of a weekly newspaper. While it is unclear, it seems Charleston was the editor of Mercer County News.

By 1931, Max Charleston had completed his manuscript The Shakers of Kentucky: the Story of a Strange Sect. He had already authored a book entitled The Shakertown History, and was a member of the American Anthropological Association & c.

On November 17, 1932, Max Charleston expressed interest in returning to his homeland of Scotland permanently in a letter.


1920 United States Federal Census


Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1:  Correspondence, 1932-1965.

Volume 2:  Typewritten manuscript, The Shakers of Kentucky: The Story of a Strange Sect, 1931.


Subject Headings

Harrodsburg (Ky.)

Depressions – 1929.

Shakers – Ohio – History.

Shakers – Kentucky – History.

Shakers – North Union (Ohio)

Shakers – Kentucky – Pleasant Hill.

Shakers – Kentucky – South Union.