book hack

Charity and Sylvia

Rachel Hope Cleves

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

Historian Rachel Hope Cleves explores the untold story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, who lived together as a married couple in the 19th century, and shows how queer women negotiated same-sex attraction in early America.


Charity and Sylvia

Charity and Sylvia

by Rachel Hope Cleves


We often think that acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is a modern phenomenon, but the lives of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake prove otherwise. Both born in Massachusetts at the end of the 18th century, Bryant and Drake met in the early 19th century and lived together as a couple in Weybridge, Vermont for 44 years.

Author Rachel Hope Cleves is a historian and academic whose research focuses on gender and sexuality in early American history. In Charity and Sylvia, Cleves explores how the relationship between Bryant and Drake came to be accepted by their rural community and sheds light on a fascinating untold period in queer history.

Favorite quote

The history of sexual nonconformity is not only a saga of oppression and suffering; it is also a tale of creative ingenuity and accommodation. … The historical record is littered with Charities and Sylvias; we need only open our eyes and see.

- Rachel Hope Cleves

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