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Suzanne Silvercruys

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Suzanne Silvercruys in 1918, from The Oregonian

Baroness Suzanne Silvercruys (married names Suzanne Farnam, Suzanne Stevenson; May 29, 1898 – March 31, 1973) was a Belgian-American sculptor and political activist, founder and first president of the Minute Women of the U.S.A.

Life and career[edit]

Suzanne Silvercruys was born in Maaseik, Belgium,[1][2] where her father, Baron Frantz (François) Silvercruys, was a Conseiller (justice) and later president of the Court of Cassation.[3][4][5] The family came to the United States in 1915 in flight from World War I; she became a US citizen in 1922.[6][7] Her brother, Baron Robert Silvercruys [de], was a poet and professor of French and later the Belgian ambassador to Canada and then for many years to the United States.[5]

Suzanne Silvercruys in 1918, from The Oregonian

In 1917, she was one of 1,500 people present at a dinner in Philadelphia where Secretary of War Newton D. Baker was to speak; when he failed to appear, she was invited to speak instead and described the Rape of Belgium by the invading Germans.[4][8] She subsequently toured the US and Canada as "the little Belgian girl", publicizing the Belgians' plight and raising a million dollars for relief to them.[6][9] She received honors from the King and Queen of Belgium,[4][10] including the Order of Leopold[11] and the Order of the Crown; she was also awarded the British Coronation Medal and was an officer of the French Academy.[7]

Silvercruys originally hoped for a career as a musician; she became interested in sculpture when she was ill with tuberculosis and a friend gave her some modeling clay; she sculpted her dog's head.[12][13] She graduated from the Yale School of Fine Arts in 1928[6] and worked as a sculptor, mainly producing portraits of famous people; she also painted portraits.[6] She had a one-person sculpture show in New York in 1930.[10] She also lectured on sculpture, often sculpting one or more members of the audience,[6] and taught the first college class in sculpture at Wichita Falls, Texas.[14] In the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she represented Belgium as a sculptor in the art competition.[15]

She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Temple University[7] and, in 1966, an LL.D. by Mount Allison University, where her papers are preserved.[16] She lived for many years in Norwalk, Connecticut, and in Tucson, Arizona,[17] where she was living when she died in Washington, D. C., while on a lecture tour.[6]

Political career[edit]

In World War II Silvercruys was again active on behalf of Belgian relief.[4][18] After the war she became a prominent anti-Socialist speaker and activist. She was one of the organizers of the Young Republican League of Connecticut and was the founder and president of Minute Women of the U.S.A.;[19][n 1] she left that position in 1952 to co-found the Constitution Party,[6] but soon in turn left the party, disenchanted with her treatment as a foreign-born Catholic and believing it harbored anti-Semites.[20][21] Her political feminism prefigured that of Phyllis Schlafly: she sought to mobilize conservative women in defence of traditional American values, was much influenced by John T. Flynn,[22] and treasured a letter from Senator Joseph McCarthy, which was shown to hesitant Minute Women recruits.[23]

She assisted in placing a candidate on the Connecticut delegation to the Republican National Convention in 1950,[24] and twice sought a place in Congress herself: as a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1946 election for the House of Representatives[6] and as an independent right-wing Republican candidate against incumbent Republican Prescott Bush in the 1956 election for the Senate.[25][26]

Private life[edit]

Silvercruys was married twice, to Henry W. Farnam, Jr., son of a Yale professor,[27][28][29] and to Edward Ford Stevenson,[2] who had filmed the Tehran and Yalta conferences during World War II[6] and was later a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve,[19] advertising executive, and producer; he died before her.

Selected works[edit]


  • Suzanne of Belgium: The Story of a Modern Girl (autobiography, with Marion Clyde McCarroll). New York: Dutton, [1932]. OCLC 5224112.[6][13][39]
  • The Epic of America (pageant)[3]
  • There Is No Death (drama, 1935)[6][13][40]
  • A Primer of Sculpture. New York: Putnam, [1942]. OCLC 1509301.[6][13]


  1. ^ There are varying accounts of whether she was the sole founder of the Minute Women. George Norris Green, The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938–1957, Contributions in Political Science 21, Westport, Connecticut / London: Greenwood, 1979, ISBN 9780313205255, p. 123, also presents her as sole founder; however, according to Allan J. Lichtman, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008, ISBN 9780871139849, p. 152, she co-founded the organization with Vivian Kellems.


  1. ^ "Suzanne Silvercruys Farnam", Olympic Sports, Sports Reference, retrieved August 24, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Evelyn de Rostaing McMann, Biographical Index of Artists in Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto, 2003, ISBN 9780802027900, p. 219.
  3. ^ a b Mary Margaret M'Bride, "Government Effect On Family Life Is Now Arousing Interest of Women in United States", The Spartanburg Herald, September 12, 1934, p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c d Associated Press, "Relief Plea Made By Belgian Woman", The Montreal Gazette, June 10, 1940, p. 7.
  5. ^ a b "Silvercruys, Robert, Papers", Georgetown University Archival Resources, Georgetown University Library, retrieved August 28, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Suzanne Silvercruys, 74, Dies; Sculptor, Painter and Lecturer", The New York Times, April 2, 1973, p. 38.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Noted Sculptor Will Give Lecture-Demonstration For AAUW", Schenectady Gazette, February 10, 1948, p. 13.
  8. ^ a b c d e George Tucker, "Man About Manhattan", Ellensburg Daily Record, November 29, 1939, p. 6.
  9. ^ Larry Zuckerman, The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I, New York: New York University, 2004, ISBN 9780814797044, p. 194.
  10. ^ a b Lee Hennessy, Central Press, "Six Interesting Faces Selected", The Spartanburg Herald, December 1, 1933, p. 17.
  11. ^ International News Service, "Nazis Hold Belgian King Virtual Prisoner, Friend Of Royal Family Declares", St. Petersburg Times, December 15, 1940, p. A7.
  12. ^ a b c "Owes Her Fame To A Chance Present", The Montreal Gazette, January 6, 1937, p. 7.
  13. ^ a b c d Pat Ingram, "Fascinated Reporter Gets Hurried Interview With Madame Silvercruys", The Breeze, Madison College, February 13, 1948, p. 1.
  14. ^ "Suzanne to Teach In Texas College", Sunday Herald (Bridgeport, Connecticut), December 2, 1956, p. 10.
  15. ^ "Suzanne Silvercruys Farnam". Olympedia. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Fonds 12 – Suzanne Silvercruys Stevenson", Archives CANB, retrieved August 26, 2016.
  17. ^ a b C. L. Sonnichsen, Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City, Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1982, ISBN 9780806118239, p. 307.
  18. ^ "Famine in Europe Seen; Mme. Silvercruys Stresses the Burden on Allied Nations", The New York Times, June 4, 1940.
  19. ^ a b Don E. Carleton, Red Scare! Right-Wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas, Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985, ISBN 9780932012906, p. 111.
  20. ^ Allan J. Lichtman, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008, ISBN 9780871139849, p. 152.
  21. ^ Carleton, pp. 121–22.
  22. ^ Carleton, pp. 111–12.
  23. ^ George Norris Green, The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938–1957, Contributions in Political Science 21, Westport, Connecticut / London: Greenwood, 1979, ISBN 9780313205255, p. 123.
  24. ^ "Suzanne Out of Running", Sunday Herald (Bridgeport, Connecticut), May 28, 1950, p. 18.
  25. ^ Frances Lewine, Associated Press, "Women Try To Double Congressional Hold", Ocala Star-Banner, October 28, 1956, p. 3.
  26. ^ "Another Close Race Looms in Connecticut", Congressional Quarterly, via St. Petersburg Times, October 20, 1956, p. 2.
  27. ^ "Miss Silvercruys To Wed H.W. Farnam Jr.", The New York Times, April 20, 1922, p. 17.
  28. ^ "American's Belgian Bride", The Washington Post, May 21, 1922, p. 22, Online at Newspapers.com, subscription required.
  29. ^ "Farnam, Hy Walcott Jr.", New York Times Index for the Published News 10.2, p. 185.
  30. ^ Preston Remington, "Notes", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34.12 (December 1939), 288–91, p. 289.
  31. ^ Jan Van Impe, "Grand Staircase and First-Floor Hall", The University Library of Leuven: Historical Walking Guide, rev. ed. Leuven: Leuven University, 2012, ISBN 9789058679253.
  32. ^ Silvercruys, Suzanne, Connaître la Wallonie, retrieved August 29, 2016 (in French).
  33. ^ Guy Blockmans, "General Mc Auliffe Monument", Pays de Bastogne, Maison du Tourisme, retrieved August 29, 2016.
  34. ^ Associated Press, "N.Y. Sees Dionnes; But As Sculptures", The Montreal Gazette, November 9, 1939, p. 12.
  35. ^ "Flier's Memorial Planned By Zonta", The Montreal Gazette, November 4, 1938, p. 6.
  36. ^ "Twice Life-Size", The Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina), June 19, 1958, p. 4.
  37. ^ George Butler, "Statue Of Noccalula Expected To Arrive Here In Late August", The Gadsden Times, June 29, 1969, p. 13.
  38. ^ "Our View: Preserving a piece of history", The Gadsden Times, March 11, 2013.
  39. ^ The Book Review Digest 29 (1934) p. 301.
  40. ^ George Tucker, "Man About Manhattan", The Gettysburg Times, March 14, 1935, p. 8.

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