Mary Lyon

Mary Lyon founded the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now College) in 1837 at South Hadley, Massachusetts, the model for institutions of higher education for women in the United States.

A teacher herself, Lyon struggled to finance her education – and determined to create a new form for women’s education based on principles of sound financial endowment, the inclusion of all economic groups, an advanced curriculum equivalent to that available to men, and the preparation of women for more than homemaking and teaching.

Defying conventional behavior, Lyon traveled and fundraised in the public eye to win support for her ideas. In 1837 Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary opened with 80 students. It was an immediate success, besieged by more students than could be accommodated. Lyon headed the organization for twelve years.

For more than 150 years, Mt. Holyoke has empowered women for serious intellectual pursuits, public leadership and service to humanity, as its founder envisioned through her words “Go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do.”

Year Honored: 1993
Birth: 1797 - 1849
Achievements: Education