Mary Lyon: Pioneer educator.

Mary Lyon was a pioneer educator of girls in the US in the nineteenth century. From a modern perspective perhaps the most important aspect of her work was that she ensured the students of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary received the same sort of education as boys – that is, science and maths were not neglected. The school started in 1837 and is still going today, though now it is called Mount Holyoke College

Lyon wanted an institution that common folk’s children could afford to attend, reaching out to wealthier women for the money to establish it. The students did the domestic work to keep the costs down. I’m sure she would be thrilled to hear that the ideals of the school have been kept. In the Princeton review of best value colleges in the US for 2014 it appears prominently.

“From its outstanding academic program and facilities to its accomplished students to the formidable faculty that love teaching as much as research, Mount Holyoke provides a first-rate experience. The academic experience is phenomenal. So is the library. The dorms are luxurious, too,” the Princeton Review editors wrote, in addition to citing other attributes of the College.

In comments based on student feedback, they wrote, “At Mount Holyoke, ‘the students are happy, intelligent women dedicated to making a real difference in the world.’ Typical students are ‘poised, eloquent, passionate, and doing interesting things both inside and outside the classroom’ and also ‘down-to-earth and laid-back but also willing to have complex conversations over breakfast.’ ”

“Though Mount Holyoke has many strengths, including a beautiful campus and top-notch academics, the one the students appreciate the most is the close-knit community and the ‘strong sense of sisterhood’ that women develop here. The social atmosphere is ‘warm and accepting,’ and the students are ‘diverse, strong, passionate, friendly, and fun.’ This strong support system is important to Mount Holyoke students, who come here to receive a first-class education in a highly academic environment, which is ‘both challenging and supportive at the same time.’ ”

For more on Mary Lyon there are her archival holdings here and a biography here

I found myself reading about Mary Lyon because I’m listing a book called Life and its Purposes. Illustrated in the Life of Mary Lyon, and Others: A Book for Young Ladies and I was hoping I could discover the identity of the unnamed author.

I found at Worldcat.org

Possibly by William Makepeace Thayer; cf. BM 236:766.
Publication date based upon name of London publisher according to Brown, P.A.H. London publishers and printers c. 1800-1870, p. 93.

It is true that this is the sort of book Thayer wrote, indeed, he wrote books with titles that reflect similar content, so it is possible that a new edition prompted a change in the title’s wording. Nonetheless, I can find nothing definitive and I’m at a loss to know what the reference means. If you understand the meaning of BM 236:766 please let me know! Perhaps then I can solve my puzzle.

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3 thoughts on “Mary Lyon: Pioneer educator.

  1. That was my first thought. And I also wondered if it could be Blackwood’s Magazine. But insofar as I could check both of these online, I haven’t had any success. I have written to the British Museum just in case, however. Unfortunately the online site containing the reference doesn’t seem to permit the possibility of talking to human beings.

  2. The University of Sydney Library has Blackwood’s Magazine. The catalogue shows that vol. 236 dates to the early to mid 1930s. The magazine is in storage and only library members, of whom I am not one, have direct access. However it seems that storage items can be accessed through inter-library loan, so I can try to get the relevant volume through the Sydney Council library system if you wish. It’s no difficulty to try, but it will take a couple of weeks to become available I would imagine.

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