During the nineteenth century thousands of Americans flocked to communal societies for economic, social, political and religious reasons. This study examines the ways in which four of the most prominent societies dealt with the issue of labor. The four communities examined are the Amana Society of Iowa, the Oneida Community of Vermont and New York, the Shakers and the Icarian Community of Illinois, Iowa and California. This study describes the ways in which each society organized its labor, the religious and cultural significance each attached to labor, and the role that a productive economy, oriented toward external markets, played in sustaining each community. This comparative analysis pays particular attention to the labor roles of women, children and the elderly in each society, as well as the contributions of the hired workers that each society, ultimately, employed.