Day is a day of celebrating the founding of
Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and honoring
Mary Lyon and her living legacy. Held on
the Sunday nearest to November 8, the date
the Seminary opened in 1837, it is a day
for reflection and respect. Begun by President
Elizabeth Storrs Mead in 1891, this is
one of Mount Holyoke College's oldest traditions.
Days - Originally this
day involved students and professors
gathering around the grave site in full
academic regalia. Flowers or a wreath were
laid on the grave marker to commemorate
Mary Lyon. Inside Abbey Chapel, Founder's
Day was marked by speeches and lectures
given by a wide variety of
to guest lecturers to a former United
president. Honorary events were often saved
for the Founder's Day ceremonies. Over
various years on Founder's Day, the laying
of many cornerstones of new buildings and
the dedications of multiple buildings were
incorporated into of the ceremonies. Sometimes
the talks were thematic, as seen in 1928
when Founder's Day's lectures made up an
Emily Dickinson themed conference. Former
United States President Taft gave an address
once. Honorary degrees were also often
bestowed upon this day. Except for 1916,
when Founder's Day had to be cancelled
due to a polio epidemic, this has been a truly annual event.
and Evolution - In the 1920s, early morning ice
a part of the Founder's Day tradition.
The laying of the flowers or wreaths continued
until recently, when the gathering around
the grave site became a more casual observance.
Lectures still continue, though with less
of the original pomp and circumstance.