Rare and Unseen Color Photographs of America’s Hippie Communes from the 1970s

Their hair and dress, their pioneer spirit, even their Indian teepees evoke the nation’s frontier beginnings. These young people are members of a commune, which they have created for themselves as a new and radical way of living. Scores of these communes are springing up all across the U.S. In the wilderness areas of the West, Southwest, and New England, the new settlers build their own homes–adobe huts, log cabins, geodesic domes–share their money and labor and legislate their own laws and taboos.

According to LIFE, the youthful pioneers, unlike the earlier Americans who went into the wilderness to seek their fortunes, are refugees from affluence. Though there have been previous such experiments in the U.S., the new communes represent an evolution of the philosophy and life-style of the hippie movement. Most members have fled the big cities—New York’s East Village, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury—where they were beset by crime, police harassment, squalor, and disillusionment. They seek in the land, and in one another, meaningful work, mutual love and spiritual rebirth. Their religion is rooted in many faiths—among them Christianity, Hinduism, and Zen Buddhism. Some communes permit LSD and marijuana, but many now discourage their use or even ban them. Some take a broad view of sexual morality, but in many communes couples practice traditional American monogamy, and sexual behavior is often surprisingly pristine. Young children, however, are raised by all the adults and by the older children of the commune, which itself is often referred to as “the Family.”















(Photos courtesy of The Farm Archive Library)

14 comments:

  1. I was the guy with the crew cut.

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  2. Actually, they're from the late 60's. Life Magazine July '69. Funny how different people react to the photos. Some see it as a great way to live. Others see it as horrible, projecting their own bias on the people pictured. Truth is, it was only a snapshot in time of a historical era in America. Some of these folks went on to become farmers, teachers, tech CEO's or lawyers. Others died of drug overdoses. Just people who lived through that era, not unlike many people today. BTW, whatever happened to photo credits? Photography by John Olson.

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  3. These pics make me want to go home and shower again

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  4. Wow, hippies! Outdoor living, organic foods, yoga, meditation and natural childbirth. Thank God that era is over and that stuff never impacted the general public.

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  5. They're not people, they're trolls.

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  6. That looks like my life from about 3ish to 5ish. No running water, no electricity, farming. I loved it. No one OD, don't recall any drug use. But it was fun.

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  7. Marci Davis ArtistJanuary 22, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    "Most members have fled the big cities...where they were beset by crime, police
    harassment, squalor, and disillusionment. They seek in the land, and in
    one another, meaningful work, mutual love and spiritual rebirth." ... still sounds like a realistic reason to do it and a good solution, to me, as it did then ... !

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  8. Wow, this brings back memories. I would have been one of the half naked little kids. Full-body tans, wild strawberries eaten straight after being picked, playing in the creek, sitting around the fire, and that creepy feeling that something was really off with the adults. Then my parents gave up the drugs, got jobs, and rented a house. Life was much nicer after that.

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  9. I would have been around 15-16 when these pictures were taken and were greatly influenced into copying this culturaly trend of that time. Being from the south, I had a number of friends go to The Farm after it was set up and live there. Me and my friends did our own truck patch organic gardening commune in Florida during the early 70's and it was great but it sure did separate the idealist members from the ones that worked hard at it! Money issues turned the commune into a for profit operation and it then became just a farm job. I left but with no hard feelings but with a ton of experience I still use today. I still have a similar lifestyle out in a rural area but without the crowd of a close community.

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  10. I am the guy wearing Sports Coat, Tie and Oxblood cordovans.

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  11. Some of those photos are from the 1970's so how they got into a 1969 Life magazine is beyond me. I was raised on The Farm and am grateful. Those with your negative comments don't knock it unless you have tried it!

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  12. People, I grew up in The Farm, which was founded by Stephan and Ina May Gaskin. My experience was a fun one, so I really don't appreciate all the ignorant, negative vibes that are being shown here. My parents were hippies that's how they met. Stephan married then back in 1971, in the meadow and they've been married since. That's over 43 years. If you want to know about The Farm, Google it.

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  13. Not a razor, a job or a dollar for miles.

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  14. So because they had a different lifestyle and beliefs than you, that means they aren't people?! You are the reason we need more hippies in the world.

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