Lyon, Mary, 1797-1849

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Mary Lyon, educator and founder of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College), was born on February 28, 1797, in Buckland, Massachusetts. Her parents were Aaron Lyon, a farmer, and Jemima Shepard Lyon. After her father's death in 1802 and her mother's remarriage 1810, Lyon remained on the family farm as a housekeeper for her brother. She started teaching in 1814 and continued her own education by attending Sanderson Academy in Ashfield, Massachusetts, Amherst (Massachusetts) Academy, and Byfield (Massachusetts) Seminary. She opened the Buckland (Massachusetts) Female School in 1824 and taught the summer term classes at Adams Female Academy in Derry (now East Derry), New Hampshire with Zilpah Grant. In 1828, she began teaching full time at Ipswich (Massachusetts) Female Seminary. During this period, she also attended lectures at Amherst College and spent a few weeks studying at what is now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 1832, she began developing plans for a new school for adult women that would own its own property and not be a for-profit venture. She spent the summer of 1833 traveling through Pennsylvania and New York State to Detroit, Michigan purchasing scientific equipment for Ipswich Seminary and visiting schools and colleges. She resigned from the Ipswich school in 1834, returning later to serve as acting principal during Grant's temporary absence, and assisted with the planning of Wheaton Female Seminary (now Wheaton College) in Norton, Massachusetts. With the help of male advisers she began raising funds for a school that was chartered on February 11, 1836 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mount Holyoke opened on November 8, 1837 and Lyon served as principal for almost twelve years. She also taught chemistry classes and organized the domestic work system by which students and teachers took care of cooking and housekeeping chores in order to avoid the expense of hiring paid staff. Lyon died of erysipelas, an acute streptococcus disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, on March 5, 1849 and is buried on the Mount Holyoke grounds.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
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referencedIn Banister papers MS 0506., 1803-1971. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Recollections of Mary Lyon. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Lord papers MS 0566., 1835-1854. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Welch, Elizabeth Mary Bell, 1829-1876. Welch papers, 1846-1848. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Beecher family papers MS 0509., 1822-1903, 1822-1865 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Fiske papers MS 0536., 1841-1866. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Burgess, Abigail M. (Abigail Moore), 1813-1853. Papers, 1838-1849. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Johnson, Harriet, d. 1865. Correspondence, 1833-1837. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Ciruti, Joan E. (Joan Estelle). Founder's Day address : typescript, 1991 Nov. 10 / Joan E. Ciruti. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Ipswich Female Seminary Collection MS 0556., 1828-[present], 1828-1875 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Nichols, Bethiah A. Miller, 1815-1865. Nichols papers 1837-1838. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Mary C. Whitman Eddy Papers MS 0851., 1837-1875 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Goodale, Lucy T. (Lucy Thurston), 1820-1840. Papers ca. 1832-1841 1838-1840. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn The Lowell Mason Papers, 1813-1980 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Putnam, Lucy P. (Lucy Pepper), 1823-1849. Papers, 1845-1846. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Marshall, James Ayrault, 1833-1853. James A. Marshall diary, 1853. William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Curtis papers MS 0736., 1838-1849, ca. 1900. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Lang Papers MS 0779., ca. 1840s-1919., 1846-1852 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Tirzah M. Williams papers, 1834-1843 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Amherst Academy (Amherst, Mass.). Records, 1817-1894. Amherst College. Library
referencedIn Emily Dickinson Collection MS 0716., 1847-, (bulk 1924- Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Holden papers MS 0715., 1838-1907, 1844-1864 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Lang, Malvina Stanton, 1826-1919. Lang papers, ca. 1840s-1919. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Spaulding correspondence MS 0735., 1832, 1897. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Welch papers MS 0775., 1846-1848. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Foster family. Papers, 1827-1982 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Adams Female Academy (Derry, N.H.). Records. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Guilford papers MS 0756., 1845-1912. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Sigourney correspondence MS 0586., 1839-1846. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Nutting Papers MS 0572., 1850-1910. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Mount Holyoke Female Seminary records. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
creatorOf Cowles, Eunice C. (Eunice Caldwell), 1811-1903. Papers, ca. 1821-1903. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Byfield Seminary Collection MS 0516., 1818-[present], 1818-1822 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Putnam papers MS 0710., 1845-1846. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Brown Papers MS 0637., 1848-1920, 1848-1854 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Beecher family. Papers, 1822-1903. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Nutting, Mary O. (Mary Olivia), 1831-1910. Nutting Papers, 1850-1910. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Green, Elizabeth Alden, 1908-. The power of faith : [Founder's Day address, Mount Holyoke College, November 7, 1976] / [Elizabeth Alden Green]. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn James A. Marshall diary 1853 Marshall, James A. diary William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Holden, Sarah Packard, 1827-1907. Papers, 1838-1907 1844-1864. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Hale Papers MS 0560., 1830-1837 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Curtis, L. M. (Lucy M.), d. 1849. Curtis papers, 1838-1849, ca. 1900. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Ipswich Female Seminary Collection, 1828-[present] (bulk 1828-1875) Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Thompson, Mary P. (Mary Pickering), 1825-1893. Mary P. Thompson papers, 1834-1893. UNH Durham, Dimond Library
referencedIn Phelps Papers MS 0641., 1843-1845, ca.1872 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Lyon, Mary, 1797-1849. Letter of Mary Lyon, 1839. Library of Congress
referencedIn Soule, Annah May, 1861-1905. Soule papers, 1896-1907. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Cowles, Eunice C. (Eunice Caldwell), 1811-1903. Papers, ca. 1821-1903. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Faculty and Staff Biographical Files RG 19., circa 1837- Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Principals and Presidents Biographical Files RG 4. 2., ca. 1875- Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. Address : [delivered at Mount Holyoke College commencement, June 14, 1921]. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Buckland Female School records MS 0512., 1826-1830. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Houghton Library. Houghton Library printed book provenance file, L-Q. 1942. Houghton Library
referencedIn Hawley Diary MS 0634., 1841-1842. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Mary Lyon Collection MS 0500., ca. 1778- Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Sigourney, L. H. (Lydia Howard), 1791-1865. Correspondence, 1839-1846. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Slote, Henrietta Howell, 1930-. A people without history : Founder's Day [address], November 6, 1977, Mount Holyoke College / Henrietta Howell Slote. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Goodale Papers MS 0640., ca. 1832-1841, 1838-1840 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Edwards papers MS 0531., 1859-1930. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Alumnae Biographical Files RG 27. 1, RG 27. 2, RG 27. 3., circa 1831-present Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Elizabeth Heard papers, 1829-1864 Baker Library, Harvard Business School
referencedIn Byfield Seminary. Records, 1818-1822. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
creatorOf Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Records / Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Nichols Papers MS 0677., 1837-1838. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Mason, Lowell, 1792-1872. The Lowell Mason papers, 1813-1980 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Burgess papers MS 0513., 1838-1853. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Buckland Female School (Buckland, Mass.). Records. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
creatorOf Lyon, Mary, 1797-1849. Autograph letter signed Mary Lyon to: Miss Hamilton September 8, 1848. Wellesley College
referencedIn Adams Female Academy Collection MS 0503., 1824-[present], 1824-1827 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Memorabilia of Mary Lyon. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Sanderson Academy records MS 0582., 1817-1828. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Jeannette Marks Papers MS 0567., 1901-1947. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Phelps, Lydia R. Baldwin, d. 1872. Phelps Papers, 1843-1845, ca. 1872. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Brown, Mary E., of Ipswich, Mass. Ipswich Historical Society archives, 1650-1870. Ipswich Public Library
referencedIn McLean, Sydney R. (Sydney Robertson), 1900-1973. Miss Lyon of Mount Holyoke. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Mason, Lowell, 1792-1872. The Lowell Mason papers, 1813-1980 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Sanderson Academy (Ashfield, Mass.). Records. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Emily Dickinson Collection, 1847- 1924- Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Williams, Tirzah M., 1821-1847. Tirzah M. Williams papers, 1834-1843. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Hooker, Henrietta Edgecomb, 1851-1929. Hooker papers, 1873-1942 (bulk 1884-1927). Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Berek, Peter. Anachronisms, mothballs, Mary Lyon, and memory : address delivered at Mount Holyoke College Founder's Day : typescript, 1990 Nov. 11. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Lord, Lucy T., 1817-1853. Papers, 1835-1854. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
referencedIn Cowles papers MS 0718., ca. 1821-1903. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Guilford, L. T. (Linda Thayer). Guilford papers, 1845-1912. Mount Holyoke College, Williston & Miles-Smith Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams Female Academy (Derry, N.H.) corporateBody
associatedWith Amherst Academy (Amherst, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Banister, Zilpah P. Grant (Zilpah Polly Grant), 1794-1874 person
associatedWith Beecher family (Lyman Beecher) family
associatedWith Berek, Peter. person
associatedWith Brown, Mary Quincy, 1828-1920 person
associatedWith Buckland Female School (Buckland, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Burgess, Abigail M. (Abigail Moore), 1813-1853 person
associatedWith Byfield Seminary. corporateBody
associatedWith Ciruti, Joan E. (Joan Estelle) person
associatedWith Cowles, Eunice C. (Eunice Caldwell), 1811-1903. person
associatedWith Curtis, L. M. (Lucy M.), d. 1849 person
associatedWith Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886 person
associatedWith Eddy, Mary C. Whitman, 1809-1875 person
associatedWith Edmonds, Anne C. (Anne Carey), 1924- person
associatedWith Edwards, Anna C. (Anna Cheney), 1835-1930 person
associatedWith Fiske, Fidelia, 1816-1864 person
associatedWith Foster family. family
associatedWith Goodale, Lucy T. (Lucy Thurston), 1820-1840 person
associatedWith Green, Elizabeth Alden, 1908- person
associatedWith Guilford, L. T. (Linda Thayer). person
associatedWith Hale, Harriet Johnson person
associatedWith Hamilton, Louisa P. person
associatedWith Hawley, Lucy, ca. 1824-1878 person
associatedWith Heard, Elizabeth, 1802-1865 person
associatedWith Holden, Sarah Packard, 1827-1907 person
associatedWith Hooker, Henrietta Edgecomb, 1851-1929. person
associatedWith Houghton Library. person
associatedWith Ipswich Female Seminary (Ipswich, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Harriet, d. 1865. person
associatedWith Lang, Malvina Stanton, 1826-1919 person
associatedWith Lord, Lucy T., 1817-1853 person
associatedWith Lyons family. family
associatedWith Marks, Jeannette Augustus, 1875-1964 person
associatedWith Marshall, James Ayrault, 1833-1853. person
associatedWith Mason, Lowell, 1792-1872. person
associatedWith McLean, Sydney R. (Sydney Robertson), 1900-1973. person
associatedWith Mount Holyoke College corporateBody
associatedWith Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. corporateBody
associatedWith Nichols, Bethiah A. Miller, 1815-1865 person
associatedWith Nutting, Mary Olivia, 1831-1910 person
associatedWith Perkins, Justin, 1805-1869 person
associatedWith Phelps, Lydia R. Baldwin, d. 1872 person
associatedWith Putnam, Lucy P. (Lucy Pepper), 1823-1849 person
associatedWith Sanderson Academy (Ashfield, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Sigourney, L. H. (Lydia Howard), 1791-1865 person
associatedWith Slote, Henrietta Howell, 1930- person
associatedWith Soule, Annah May, 1861-1905. person
associatedWith Spaulding, Julia Brooks. person
associatedWith Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. person
associatedWith Thompson, Mary P. (Mary Pickering), 1825-1893. person
associatedWith Welch, Elizabeth Mary Bell, 1829-1876 person
associatedWith Wheaton Female Seminary (Norton, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Williams, Tirzah M., 1821-1847. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Byfield MA US
Buckland MA US
South Hadley MA US
Norton MA US
Ashfield MA US
Subject
Missionaries
Women
Women
Women educators
Women teachers
College administration
College administrators
College presidents
Occupation
College administrators
College President
Educators
Activity

Person

Birth 1797-02-28

Death 1849-03-05

Female

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w60686cb

SNAC ID: 85509153