Founded by Unitarian minister Edward Biron Payne and thirty of his followers near Santa Rosa in October 1894, Altruria prospered only for a few months. The Altrurians kept orchards and gardens and sold their produce in a shop in San Francisco, whose manager was Job Harriman.
The group published the magazine the Altrurian, which informed its supporters of the colony and sought to promote its ideals and the formation of Altrurian societies. Several such societies were created in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. It also started a project of a hotel on the community's property. Poor management, together with a lack of funds because of the hotel project, caused the group to implement a reorganization plan to avoid bankruptcy only one year after the group was founded. At the same time, the group founded two new locations. The financial problems proved insurmountable, however, and all the locations were abandoned in 1896.
- Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998. ISBN 1-57392-222-6.
- Hine, Robert V. (1953). California's Utopian Colonies. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library. pp. 101–113.
- Walter Rauschenbusch: Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907).
- Steve Bjerklie: "Sowing the Seeds of Eden: Utopias, Communes, and the Search for a Better Way in Sonoma County".