Mary Fish Silliman: A Woman in Revolutionary America

30apr2:00 pm3:00 pmMary Fish Silliman: A Woman in Revolutionary America2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Event Details

The New Haven Museum (NHM) will host Patricia E. Kane, Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery, for a lecture “Mary Fish Silliman: A Woman in Revolutionary America,” on Sunday, April 30, 2023, at 2 p.m. Kane’s presentation will be in memory of Gloria Arons—chair of the NHM Collections Committee from 2009 to 2019, and second vice president of the NHM Board of Directors from 2013 to 2018—who passed away in 2019.

During the lecture, Kane will illustrate a high chest of drawers on view at the New Haven Museum that was once owned by Mary Silliman and discuss its decorative features. Kane will also explore the life of Mary Silliman, whose determination and perseverance sustained her family’s business through the American Revolution and beyond.

Letters, a journal, and a reminiscence provide rich documentation of Mary’s life and were the basis of a biography “The Way of Duty: A Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America,” by Joy Day Buel and Richard Buel, Jr. Drawing on the biography, the lecture will contextualize Mary’s world from her education in the 1740s to her first marriage to John Noyes of New Haven in the 1750s, to her second marriage to Gold Selleck Silliman in Fairfield, Connecticut in the 1770s.

When Gold, a major in the Continental Army, was captured by Loyalists during the American Revolution, Mary assumed management of the family farm in Fairfield, Connecticut. Appeals for assistance from the Continental Army and General Washington went unheeded, and Mary took matters into her own hands, hiring a privateer to kidnap a Loyalist, intending to exchange him for her husband. Gold eventually returned home but died in 1789. Mary once again assumed the role of head of the household. She managed the family finances, and sent her younger sons to Yale University, as she had done for their older brothers.



(Sunday) 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


New Haven Museum

114 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT USA

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