*Two* Woman to Know: Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake
|Julia Carpenter||Mar 29, 2017|
This union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for more than forty years. — Willem Cullen Bryant
(image via Henry Sheldon Museum)
In the 19th century, in the tiny town of Weybridge, Vt., Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant shared a house, a bank account, a tailoring business and a Sunday school class -- and, according to their letters, their diaries, even the headstone over their shared grave -- a love deeper than that of business partners and friends.
Many historians consider Bryant and Drake's common law "marriage" as the first documented same-sex union -- recognized two decades before the Supreme Court would legalize it. As Jan Albers of the Henry Sheldon Museum wrote:
The love story of Charity and Sylvia .... shows us that there were couples of the same sex long before our time, "married" in their love if not in their rights. And by their example we see that it was possible for some such people to live quiet, respectable lives as members of their communities. There is nothing new under the sun.
** Also! Announced this at the beginning of Women's History Month, but a reminder: for every person who replies to this newsletter and recommends a woman to know, I'm donating $1 to The New Historia. Also, now, replying and recommending doesn't just give money to a worthy cause -- it also enters you to win a copy of Dead Feminists from Sasquatch Books! Thank you to generous subscriber Corinna for organizing the giveaway! You have until end of this week to enter, people. So send! some! recs! **
Add to your library list:
Charity and Sylvia (Rechel Hope Cleves)
The 200-year-old story of one of America's earliest same-sex marriages (The Washington Post)
Sylvia and Charity: A Vermont Love Story for the Ages (Henry Sheldon Museum)
Same-sex marriage in the 19th century (The Boston Globe)
** Send your own recommendations for women to know! Reply to this newsletter with your lady and she could be featured in an upcoming edition. You can browse the archive here. **