Lucy Wright was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on February 5, 1760. She married Elizur Goodrich in 1779, and that same year they visited a Shaker settlement near Albany, New York. Goodrich was drawn to the religion immediately, while Wright was more reserved. After several of Goodrich’s family joined the religion, the couple too eventually joined.
Upon their joining the Shakers, Lucy and Elizur continued to live together. Shortly after, Goodrich began traveling as a missionary in order to gain converts. When he wasn’t traveling, he lived in New Lebanon, New York in that community’s meetinghouse. Wright was made part of Mother Ann Lee’s family in Watervliet. She was made the leading caretaker of the Sisters, and eventually Mother Ann held her up as a model Shaker woman.
Upon the death of Mother Ann, and her successor James Whittaker, Joseph Meacham was made leader of the Shakers. He decided to elevate Wright to co-leader, making them both the religion’s first American-born leaders. When Meacham died in 1796, Lucy Wright was left as the sole leader of the Shakers. Although a main Shaker belief was equality between men and women, several men left the religion when a woman became their sole leader.
Lucy Wright remained as Shaker leader until her death on February 7, 1821. Under her leadership the Shakers added several communities in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. She also brought uniformity to Shaker dance, and established basic organizational structure for each of the communities.