The Reverend Ilsley // Silias Boone, known to relatives and friends as "Uncle Danny", was born in 1879 in Brooklyn, New York and died in 1968 in Whitehouse, Ohio. He was a charismatic speaker, a powerful organizer, and was the founding father of the The American Sunbathing Association (ASA), later reorganized as the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).
His father was Silas Ilsley Boone (1846-1900), who was the older brother to his future father-in-law Christopher Columbus Boone (1863-1926). His mother was Agnes Ferris Turnbull Eldridge (1849-1940). Little is known of Boone's early life, other than he lived in Brooklyn with his two brothers and two sisters. In Rhode Island 1904, he graduated from Brown University, and married Alice M Barragar. They soon moved to Newton, Massachusetts where he obtained a divinity degree from Newton Theological Institute. Originally ordained as a Baptist, in 1921 Boone became pastor of the Ponds Reformed Church (Dutch Reformed) in Oakland, New Jersey. In the mid-1920's he developed the concept of visual education under contract with the New York City Public School System. With the onset of the Great Depression, the city canceled Boon's contract, but his interest in education continued, serving with the Oakland Public School system. Also, in the mid-20's, he divorced his first wife, and married his paternal first cousin, Ella Murray "Mae" Boone. They had three children, Bradford Ilsley Boone, Nancy Adeline Boone, and Berton Maxfield Boone. In 1931, he became interested in naturism, and traveled to Germany to visit Freilichtpark (Free-Light Park), near Hamburg. This was the world's first naturist resort, which had opened nearly three decades earlier. During this period, he also became a member of both the New York and Royal Microscopy Societies.
In 1930, Kurt Barthel had formed The American League for Physical Culture (ALPC), America's first nudist organization, and the following year Boone became the ALPC Executive Secretary. Soon after, Barthel asked him to take his place as President of the ALPC, which Boone continued on as for 20 years, until August 1952 (when the organization was then The American Sunbathing Association).
In 1936, Boone opened Sunshine Park in the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, New Jersey (near Atlantic City), and established the national headquarters of the American Sunbathing Association there. As a faithful adherent to Barthel’s original ideals and behavior guidelines, "Uncle Danny" advocated the development of new nudist clubs, often leading legal challenges fighting local officials trying to block nudist centers in their area. He encouraged regimens of calisthenics, abstinence (alcohol), nudity regardless of the weather, and vegetarianism for all members and their guests, in addition to his beliefs of healthful benefits derived from nudity, sunbathing, and exercise. In the early 1960s, the park was purchased by Psychologist Oliver York for $120,000. It continued on for another two decades until health violations of the aging buildings forced its closure by the city.
Following his ordination, Boone served a number of pastorates and wrote a number of books dealing with the divine, the most notable being "The Conquering Christ". By 1933, however, Boone's interest in nudism led to publishing the first American nudist magazine, The Nudist (with Henry S. Huntington as its editor) which later became Sunshine & Health, published by his Sunshine Publishing Company. Even with the genitalia airbrushed out of the photos of nudists, the United States Postal Service decided the materials were obscene and could not be distributed through the U.S. mail, but Boone challenged the decision and took his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1958, he ultimately won the right to distribute uncensored nudist materials through the mail. The victory enabled not only legitimate nudist magazines and men's magazines to feature full frontal nudity (including Hugh Hefner's Playboy Magazine), but also unintentionally helped make possible the later oncoming flood of explicit adult publications during the 1960s Sexual Revolution.
Boone's second wife died in 1960, and he became a widower for the last eight years of his life. Due to the proliferation of more successful competing nudist and adult publications, his Sunshine Publishing Company finally went out of business in 1963. Nearly broke, Boone lived his last years in the Ohio home of National Nudist Council member Edith Church, where he died on Thanksgiving Day in 1968 at age 89. But his magazine Sunshine & Health was continued on by another publisher for several more years into the 1980s, making it the longest published nudist magazine in America.
- Life Among Lobsters. 1902.
- The Conquering Christ. 1923. ISBN 978-1-153-33786-1.
- The Joys of Nudism. Greenberg. 1934.
- The ABC of Nudism: An Illustrated Handbook on the Movement in America, Its Practice and Philosophy. Sunshine Book Company. 1934.
- Why Nudism: What Contribution Can the American Nudist Movement Make to Happier Human Lives?. American Sunbathing Association. 1949.
- Evolutionary Psychology: Hints as to Its Factors, Importance, Uses, and Resulting Changes for Our Whole Social Order. Next Century Fund. 1949.
- College Hill Verse: Being selections from student publications of Brown University 1894-1904 (editor, 1904)
- The Nudist (1933-1963)
- Sunshine & Health (1933-1963)
Notes and references
- Mussell 2010.
- "Medicine: Legal Nudism". TIME Magazine. Jan 14, 1935. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "King of Nudists Loses his Throne". Panama City News Herald. Panama City, Florida. August 18, 1952. p. 8 col B. Retrieved 2016-06-17 – via newspaperarchive.com. (Subscription required (. ))
- Barlas 2009.
- "Shivering Nudists Don Clothes at Convention". Joplin Globe. 13 October 1934. p. 4. Retrieved 2016-07-24 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (. ))
- Mussell, Gary L. (2010). "A Brief History of Nudism and the Naturist Movement in America" (PDF). Southern California Naturist Association.
- Barlas, Thomas (July 30, 2009). "Hamilton to get $300,000 with sale of former nudist colony site". pressofAtlanticCity.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- Ottenheimer, Martin (1996). "Chapter 5 The Evolutionary Factor". Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06540-8.