Mary Lyon

About Mary Lyon

Who is it?: Pioneer in Women's Education
Birth Day: February 28, 1797
Birth Place: Buckland, United States
Succeeded by: Mary C. Whitman
Resting place: Mount Holyoke College

Mary Lyon

Mary Lyon was born on February 28, 1797 in Buckland, United States, is Pioneer in Women's Education. Mary Lyon was an American education activist who is remembered for her commitment of providing affordable higher and better education for woman. She fully understood the socio-economic disparity in society and took initiatives to help less privileged students join seminary. In Massachusetts she set up two seminaries, the ‘Wheaton Female Seminary’ at Norton and the ‘Mount Holyoke Female Seminary’ at South Hadley. Mary Lyon was the first principal of the ‘Mount Holyoke Female Seminary’ and remained in the post for twelve years. The successful progress of ‘Mount Holyoke Female Seminary’ opened new vistas in the field of women’s education. She proved that a seminary for women can sustain financially and that women are equally capable of higher education. Her vision and philosophy for advancement and easy access of higher education for woman was taken forward by not only her students but by many others across the globe. She was a source of inspiration for many who established colleges for women including ‘Smith College’, ‘Mills College’ and ‘Wellesley College’.
Mary Lyon is a member of Miscellaneous

Does Mary Lyon Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Mary Lyon has been died on March 5, 1849(1849-03-05) (aged 52)\nSouth Hadley, Massachusetts.

🎂 Mary Lyon - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Mary Lyon die, Mary Lyon was 52 years old.

Popular As Mary Lyon
Occupation Miscellaneous
Age 52 years old
Zodiac Sign Pisces
Born February 28, 1797 (Buckland, United States)
Birthday February 28
Town/City Buckland, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Mary Lyon’s zodiac sign is Pisces. According to astrologers, Pisces are very friendly, so they often find themselves in a company of very different people. Pisces are selfless, they are always willing to help others, without hoping to get anything back. Pisces is a Water sign and as such this zodiac sign is characterized by empathy and expressed emotional capacity.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Mary Lyon was born in the Year of the Snake. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Snake are seductive, gregarious, introverted, generous, charming, good with money, analytical, insecure, jealous, slightly dangerous, smart, they rely on gut feelings, are hard-working and intelligent. Compatible with Rooster or Ox.

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The daughter of a farming family in Buckland, Massachusetts, Lyon had a hardscrabble childhood. Her father died when she was five, and the entire family pitched in to help run the farm. Lyon was thirteen when her mother remarried and moved away; she stayed behind in Buckland in order to keep the house for her brother Aaron, who took over the farm. She attended various district schools intermittently and, in 1814, began teaching in them as well. Lyon's modest beginnings fostered her lifelong commitment to extending educational opportunities to girls from middling and poor backgrounds.


During these early years, Lyon gradually developed her vision for Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, which would resemble Grant's schools in many respects but, Lyon hoped, draw its students from a wider socioeconomic range. The college was unique in that it was founded by people of modest means and served their daughters, rather than the children of the rich. She was especially influenced by Reverend Joseph Emerson, whose Discourse on Female Education (1822) advocated that women should be trained to be teachers rather than "to please the other sex."


In 1834, Laban Wheaton and his daughter-in-law, Eliza Baylies Chapin Wheaton, called upon Mary Lyon for assistance in establishing the Wheaton Female Seminary (now Wheaton College) in Norton, Massachusetts. Miss Lyon created the first curriculum with the goal that it be equal in quality to those of men's colleges. She also provided the first principal, Eunice Caldwell. Wheaton Female Seminary opened on 22 April 1835, with 50 students and three teachers. Mary Lyon and Eunice Caldwell left Wheaton, along with eight Wheaton students, to open Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.


Mount Holyoke opened in 1837: the seminary was ready for "the reception of scholars on November 8, 1837." Lyon strove to maintain high academic standards: she set rigorous entrance exams and admitted "young ladies of an adult age, and mature character." In keeping with her social vision, she limited the tuition to $60/year, about one-third the tuition that Grant charged at Ipswich Female Seminary, which was central to her mission of "appeal[ing] to the intelligence of all classes."


Lyon died of erysipelas (possibly contracted from an ill student in her care) on March 5, 1849. Lyon was buried on the Mount Holyoke College campus, in front of Porter Hall and behind the Amphitheatre. Her burial site is marked with a granite marker surrounded by an iron fence.


Many buildings have been named in her honor, including Mary Lyon Hall at Mount Holyoke College. Built in 1897 on the site of the former Seminary Building, the hall houses college offices, classrooms, and a chapel. The main classroom building for Wheaton Female Seminary, originally called New Seminary Hall, was renamed Mary Lyon Hall in 1910 and still features prominently on the campus of Wheaton College. Dormitories named after Mary Lyon can also be found at Miami University, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, Swarthmore College, and University of Massachusetts Amherst. Mary Lyon Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington is named after her.


In 1905, Lyon was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx, New York. She is also honored in the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.


Conforti (1993) examines the central importance of religion to Lyon. She was raised a Baptist but converted to a Congregationalist under the influence of her Teacher Reverend Joseph Emerson. Lyon preached revivals at Mount Holyoke, spoke elsewhere, and, though not a minister, was a member of the fellowship of New England's New Divinity clergy. She played a major role in the revival of the thought of Jonathan Edwards, whose works were read more frequently then than in his day. She was attracted by his ideas of self-restraint, self-denial, and disinterested benevolence.


In order to keep costs low, Lyon required students to perform domestic tasks—an early version of work/study. These tasks included preparing meals and washing floors and windows. Emily Dickinson, who attended the Seminary in 1847, was tasked with cleaning knives. Though Lyon's policies were sometimes controversial, the seminary quickly attracted its target student body of 200.

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