Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mary Lyon 1797 ~ 1849


Mary Lyon's Grave

Born in Buckland, Franklin County, Massachusetts, February 26, 1797, and died March 5, 1849. She grew up as a simple country girl of that time, learning the household arts of spinning, weaving, netting and embroidery, her school advantages being the most limited, but at the age of twenty she entered Sanderson Academy, at Ashfield, as a pupil. Being imbued with a deep religious spirit, she worked among the pupils for their conversion.

Her work spread among the people of Ashfield, Buckland and Derry. Ipswich was the scene of her earliest labors. Until 1790 girls were not admitted to the public schools of Boston, and from 1790 to 1792 they were allowed to attend only in the summer months. There were more than one hundred colleges for young men in the state of Massachusetts, when in 1856 she was granted the first charter for "a school for the systematic higher education of women," Mount Holyoke Seminary. She raised the thirty thousand dollars deemed requisite to obtain this charter. Her purpose was as philanthropic as her impulses were religious, and she sought to increase the usefulness of women as well as to bring them to Christ. During the first six years of her presidency of the seminary, not a graduate or a pupil left the school without a deep religious faith.

Her intense consecration to the spiritual work made her essentially a missionary, and it was her desire to spread the words of Christ through the far distant lands. She organized the first missionary society in Buckland in her early years. She never would consent to receive any salary as president of the seminary, but consecrated all the moneys received, except two hundred and fifty dollars a year, to the missionary work. Hardly a class went out of the seminary which did not have among its number one or two, or even more, missionaries ready for the field.

Her monument stands today in the grounds of the Mount Holyoke Seminary, and her works live after her. She stands as one of the earliest pioneers for the higher education for women.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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