Lilian Baker Carlisle

Lillian Baker Carlisle
Lillian Baker Carlisle

Time Period

1940 to Today

Subject Categories

Arts, Government / Politics, Writers

Notable Facts

Nationally recognized for her work cataloging the renowned collection of folk art and artifacts at the Shelburne Museum. Wrote numerous articles and books on antiques and Vermont local history.

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Primary Residence


Historical Significance

Lilian Matarose Baker Carlisle was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on January 1, 1912. After taking a secretarial course at the Pierce College of Business Administration, she married Grafton Carlisle. In 1946 she and her husband moved to Burlington with their two young daughters, Penelope and Diana. Four years later, she began working as an assistant to Electra Havermeyer Webb, founder of the Shelburne Museum. Originally hired for her shorthand and typing skills, at Webb's suggestion she researched and designed a cataloging system for the museum's collection. In the process, she became an expert in the material culture and folk art at the museum. Carlisle spent the next eleven years as Director of Research and Collections and received national recognition for her work in cataloging this unique collection.

While working at the Shelburne Museum, she published a book, "Vermont Clocks, Watchmakers, Silversmiths and Jewelers, 1778-1878", which remains the definitive resource on this material. She also authored many articles and catalogues about the Shelburne Museum, including: "The Story of the Shelburne Museum, co-authored with Ralph Nading Hill," "The Carriages at Shelburne Museum," "Pieced Work and Applique Quilts at Shelburne Museum," and "Hatboxes and Bandboxes at Shelburne Museum." Her articles on material culture appeared in Antiques Journal, Yankee, Antiques, Spinning Wheel, Art & Antiques, Hobbies, and Antique Trader magazines.

Carlisle began her interest in Burlington's historic buildings in 1965 when she guided her first walking history tour of the city. Subsequently, she co-founded the Chittenden County Historical Society and edited the society's eleven-volume "Look Around" series and the three-volume "Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods."

Carlisle represented Burlington in the Vermont House of Representatives in 1969-1970 and became known for her interest in environmental legislation, health care, abortion rights and published a number of important studies on mental retardation, day care and a Burlington Area Community Health Study. Returning to college, she received her B.A. from UVM in 1981, followed by an M.A. in 1986 and an honorary Ph.D. in 2005. She served on several advisory boards and participated in the "We Vermonters: Perspectives on the Past" series and the "Research in Progress" seminar series sponsored by the Center for Research on Vermont. She established an Heirloom Appraisal Day at the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont, where she served on the Board of Advisors. On May 5, 2005, she was awarded the Center for Research on Vermont's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Carlisle died on July 28, 2006 at 94 years of age.

Organizations or Movements

  • Co-founder of the Chittenden County Historical Society
  • Member of the Center for Research on Vermont
  • Advisor of the Fleming Museum


  • Shelburne Museum
  • Author
  • State Representative
  • Editor


  • Dickinson College (one year)
  • Pierce College of Business Administration
  • University of Vermont: B.A. (1981), M.A. (1986) and Honorary Ph.D. (2005).

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Lifelong Fascination: Lilian Baker Carlisle Link

  • In Memoriam Link

  • Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation Link

  • Those Indomitable Vermont Women

  • Lilian Baker Carlisle Collection Link

  • University of Vermont Honorary Degree Recipients 2005 Link

  • Church Street Walking Tour Link

  • Becker, Julie. "Lilian Baker Carlisle." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. Edited by John Duffy. University Press of New England, 2003.

Additional Images

Lilian Carlisle and Electra Havemeyer Webb with some of the Shelburne Museum?s hatbox collection
Lilian Carlisle and Electra Havemeyer Webb with some of the Shelburne Museum?s hatbox collection
Lilian Baker Carlisle
Lilian Baker Carlisle
Lilian Baker Carlisle Recieving Her Honorary Degree
Lilian Baker Carlisle Recieving Her Honorary Degree