FebruMary at MHC

Celebrating Mary Lyon's birthday all month long

FebruMary Fact of the Day – Feb. 19

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Did you know that Mary Lyon was good friends with Edward Hitchcock,  Geology professor and third President of Amherst College?

In the summer of 1823 Mary lived with Hitchcock (who at that time was a Congressional minister) and his wife, Orra White.  Mary was teaching  at a school in Conway, and “at the same time could study science with the husband and drawing and painting with the wife”  (Green, 1979, p. 36).

“Hitchcock was no ordinary minister… he had, before he was 30, graduated and become principal of Deerfield Academy,  been attracted to Unitarianism and then converted himself back to Congregational orthodoxy, because of eye trouble given up his plans to attend Harvard, and then, without the benefit of college, qualified for the study of divinity and the ministry.  He also won attention beyond the Connecticut Valley through articles based on his own astronomical observations, which exposed the repeated errors in a popular almanac” (Green, 1979, pp. 36-7).

“In another two years Edward Hitchcock would be launched on his major career as a professor at Amherst College, which had opened in 1821 and was still scrambling to survive.  He was to be the mainstay of science teaching at Amherst for nearly 40 years, including a decade when he served as president.  He would also become the father of United States geological surveys, a founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a pioneer in the investigation of the Connecticut Valley dinosaur tracks — and an invaluable friend of Mount Holyoke Seminary from the moment the first plans were evolved” (Green, 1979, p. 37).

FebruMary facts come from the book Mary Lyon and Mount Holyoke, Opening the Gates, by Elizabeth Alden Green.

Green, E. A. (1979). Mary Lyon and Mount Holyoke: Opening the gates. Hanover, N.H: University Press of New England.

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