Flower crowns, bare feet, Woodstock, peace signs and the age of Aquarius. These are probably some of the first images that spring to mind when you think of the hippie movement of the 1960s and '70s. But these symbols of bohemian, free-spirited living don't even begin to tell the full story.

While you may be familiar with the philosophies of love, equality and peace that underpinned the hippie movement, the details of the "free love movement" are, in many ways, still shrouded in mystery, particularly the truth about the free love communes that sprung up at the time.

The beginning of the free love movement

The origins of the movement date back to the 19th century. In fact, some historians even cite references to similar communes as early as the second and third centuries.

In the early 19th century, Victoria Woodhull ran for president of the United States on a free love platform, the idea being that people should be able to love freely.

"They were not 1960s hippies, they did not say everyone should be sleeping around, they were not saying people should be totally free with their sexuality," Michael Bronski, a professor at Harvard University, told