To Do Tomorrow: Discover the Great Divorce

Tuesday, September 28 – 7:30 p.m.
Discovering the Great Divorce

by Ilyon Woo

In 1814, Eunice Chapman’s estranged husband stole away her three children and took them to live among the Shakers. At a time when wives and mothers had few rights to speak of, Eunice Chapman waged a colossal campaign for her children’s return, lobbying the New York legislature year after year, courting politicians, penning thrilling narratives about Shaker captivity, and finally rallying a mob to bring her children home. In the process she drew the attention of such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren and won unprecedented rights as a wife and mother.

Drawing on her newly published book The Great Divorce, Ilyon Woo will discuss this sensational story and the key historical evidence she found at AAS. You can read more about the book and find links to other Shaker resources on the book’s website at or play the video below to see a 3:28 minute book trailer for The Great Divorce.

Ilyon Woo holds a B.A. in the Humanities from Yale College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. She conducted research for The Great Divorce at AAS in 2004-2005 as a Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellow. Information about the AAS Fellowship program is available online at

Tomorrow evening’s program is co-sponsored by Fruitlands Museum. More information is available at

More information about public programs at AAS this fall, plus directions to the library, are available online at

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