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William Silver papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 1897

Scope and Contents

The papers document William Silver's personal life, seminary thesis, his application for ordination into the United Presbyterian Church, and his later life in the Cherry Grove community on Fire Island, New York. Particularly well documented is Silver's coming out process and the Presbyterian Church's debate on the ordination of homosexuals in the 1970s. The papers consist of journals, writings, sermons, correspondence, photographs, newsletters and newsletter design files, news clippings, and printed material.

Dates

  • 1947-2007

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Original computer files may not be accessed due to their fragility. Researchers must consult access copies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Estate of William Silver, 2007, 2008, and 2011.

Arrangement

The papers are arranged by accession.

Extent

8.25 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

11 CD-Rs (490 files)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.1897

Overview

The papers document William Silver's personal life, seminary thesis, his application for ordination into the United Presbyterian Church, and his later life in the Cherry Grove community on Fire Island, New York. Particularly well documented is Silver's coming out process and the Presbyterian Church's debate on the ordination of homosexuals in the 1970s. The papers consist of journals, writings, sermons, correspondence, photographs, newsletters and newsletter design files, news clippings, and printed material.

Biographical / Historical

William Silver, who was also known as Violet, was born September 8, 1947, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Arts (1969) from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in Fine Arts and Pre-theology. He received a Masters of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in 1973. In his final year at Seminary, Silver came out as a gay man and based his thesis project on his coming out process, or "experience of liberation." The project consisted of a series of paintings and a journal where he documented his coming out process.

In 1975 Silver requested ordination in the Presbytery of New York. His request sparked a two year, church-wide debate on the ordination of gay men in the Presbyterian Church. The General Assembly of United Presbyterian Church in the United States adopted a policy that barred self-affirming, practicing gay men from ordination in 1978. The policy, while blocking ordination, allowed for accepting homosexuals into the church and even ordaining repentant homosexuals who led a celibate or heterosexual life-style. Additionally, the policy protected gay men who were ordained prior to 1978 from being removed from the ministry. Silver continued his involvement with the church as a layman until the 1980s.

He worked as a graphic artist and events organizer. He was a long-time resident and active member of the Cherry Grove, Fire Island (New York) community. He was known for his "High Purple Tea" events and as the publisher of the monthly "Violet's Wild Cherry" events guide. Silver died of complications due to AIDS in 2007.
Title
Guide to the William Silver Papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by Mary Caldera and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
Date
May 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • October 2020: The finding aid was revised in 2020 to incorporate fuller description of the born digital photographs and Violet’s Wild Cherry newsletter files.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)

Location

Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours