Mary Lyon

Who was Mary Lyon? Why is she an important figure in women's history? What makes her life inspiring? What did she accomplish against obstacles which would have discouraged the less determined? Why do historians call her achievement "an astonishing feat?" How did she transform, forever, the course of women's education?

This is your opportunity to discover Mary Lyon. You will learn about her childhood and education, and her career as a teacher and an educational leader. You will learn about the first year of Mount Holyoke's existence--its students and their activities, the building in which they lived and studied, and Mary Lyon's influential role in science education.

As you read the chapters of her story, picture yourself living and going to school in Mary Lyon's day; imagine supporting yourself at age 13 and traveling hundreds of miles by stagecoach over dirt roads; think what it would be like to have people scorn your ideas, to have no chance to go to college or to become a doctor or lawyer. Mary Lyon's accomplishments will then become all the more courageous and daring.

Marly Lyon collage
1797-1849 A schoolteacher from Massachusetts, an American pioneer, a remarkable woman who founded the worldwide model of higher education for women--Mount Holyoke College