Mary Lyon (1797-1849), educator
Major Joseph Griswold House
Photograph by Eleanor Monahon.
The Major Joseph Griswold House is associated with Mary Lyon, the founder of Mt. Holyoke College and a pioneer in the advancement of higher education for women. Mary Lyon was born in 1797 and grew up on her familys farm in western Massachusetts. In 1817, she enrolled in the coeducational Sanderson Academy. Four years later, Lyon attended Byfield Academy, where she met Rev. Joseph Emerson, an advocate for the establishment of permanent educational institutions for women. After completing her education, Lyon began teaching young women in their homes while looking for a classroom space for all of her students. Major Joseph Griswold, a prominent Buckland citizen whose large home often served as a community assembly hall, offered Lyon the use of his homes third floor ballroom in which classes could be conducted. Accepting the offer, Lyon taught Latin, science, and history to her female students. This was a unique curriculum because most young women at that time were usually limited to studying subjects such as painting, needlework and music. Lyon held school at the Major Griswold House until 1829, when a larger hall was built to accommodate her increased enrollment. Lyons reputation as a progressive educator spread throughout western Massachusetts. In 1836 the town of South Hadley offered Lyon $8,000 for the establishment of a womens seminary. The following year, Mt. Holyoke Seminary, which later became Mt. Holyoke College, opened its doors to students. Lyon remained at Mt. Holyoke until her death in 1849 and today is considered a pioneer in the field of education.
The Major Joseph Griswold House is located on Upper St. in Buckland, MA. The property is not open to the public.
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