LYON, MARY MASON (1797-1849), American educator, was born on Feb. 28, 1797, on a farm near Buckland, Mass. She began to teach when she was 17, and in 1817, with earnings from spinning and weaving, she went to Sanderson academy, Ashfield, where the other pupils failed to keep within reciting distance of her. She supported herself there and at the other academies she attended by teaching, her desire to acquire and impart learning seeming insatiable. Her success as a teacher and administrator and the demand for the young women she trained were the be ginning of her plan for "a permanent institution consecrated to the training of young women for usefulness . . . designed to furnish every advantage which the state of education in this country will allow . . . to put within reach of students of moder ate means such opportunities that none can find better." She was aided in this effort by Edward Hitchcock, the geologist, with whom she had studied. This assistance, reinforced by her own
enthusiasm and practical common sense secured for her plan the necessary financial support. In 1835 a site was selected near the village of South Hadley and Mt. Holyoke. In 1836 the school was incorporated as Mt. Holyoke Female seminary; and on Nov. 8, 1837, it opened with Mary Lyon as principal, and Miss Eunice Caldwell as assi.tant, afterwards well known as Mrs. J. P. Cowles of Ipswich academy. Miss Lyons died at Mt. Holyoke on March 5, 1849, having served nearly 12 years as principal of the seminary, on a salary of $200 a year. Her work at Holyoke was an important step in the higher education of women in America.
See Edward Hitchcock, Life and Labors of Mary Lyon (i851), and Beth B. Gilchrist, Life of Mary Lyon (1910) ; E. C. Adams and W. D. Foster, Heroines of Modern Progress (1913) ; and Gamaliel Bradford, Portraits of American Women (Boston, 1919).