FebruMary at MHC

Celebrating Mary Lyon's birthday all month long

Final FebruMary Fact of the Day – Feb. 28

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Did you know that students had to cook for guests before commencement ceremonies?

“The anniversary on August 23 went off in fine style.  Public examinations were held Monday afternoon and Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Wednesday more than half the students attended commencement at Amherst College, while the rest stayed home to prepare for the 40 dinner guests — trustees, ministers, others — invited to eat with the students before  the exercises Thursday afternoon” (Green, 1979, p.191) .

While there were many differences between the first commencement ceremony and the ones we experience now, 176 years later, there are also some striking similarities.

… The procession from the Seminary to the church was led by the trustees and the speaker, followed by Miss Lyon and the other teachers, the three graduating seniors, and the rest of the school.  All the girls wore white, were bareheaded, and carried parasols.  …The diplomas were presented by Mr. Condit, as secretary of the board, “in his neat, elegant manner”; these parchment evidences of achievement were in English, not Latin, and illustrated a favorite verse of Joseph Emerson which was also on the Seminary seal, “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalms 144:12)” (Green, 1979, p. 191).

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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