Explore Colony Life

A Christian Communal Society

Nearly 600 people, almost all German and Swiss emigrants, established and lived in the Aurora Colony, a Christian communal society, from 1856 to 1883. Christian communal living in the Aurora Colony was carried out by individuals who were members of specific family groups, and this was notably unlike other Christian colonies that practiced celibacy.

People and Families

Fifty-four families have been identified as having been members of either the Bethel or Aurora Colony’s.  Learn more about the people and families of Aurora Colony that have been compiled from our available sources.

Houses & Buildings

The houses and buildings from the Aurora Colony represent one of the largest concentration of structures built by German craftsmen in the Pacific Northwest. Five buildings are part of the Old Aurora Colony Museum and most others can be viewed as part of a walking tour.

Lifestyles in the Colony

Communal living evolved out of their religious beliefs and because of a need to protect their business interests in a new country. The colony members supported the lifestyle through agricultural production and the application of their manufacturing skills. They made most of their own products including furniture, textiles and baskets.

Archives and Documents

Personal photographs, letters, archives and items actually created or used by the Aurora Colonists are organized by family group and they are the primary focus of our research and interpretation.


ACHS maintains active Family History Files of colony descendants including correspondence, family related research, photography files and lists of museum artifact donations.  These files are open to qualified researchers.