Martha Payne Greene '53, who lives in Franklin County, Massachusetts, where Mary Lyon was born and raised, got the idea for the project when the statue of Sojourner Truth was unveiled in October 2002 in nearby Florence, Massachusetts. "I went to see it, and I said to myself that Mary Lyon also should stand where people can see and appreciate her." Greene discussed her idea with friend and fellow alumna Mimi Darrow '51, who happened to be taking a sculpture class with Lu Stubbs, an artist who had recently moved to Northampton. Darrow discussed the idea with Stubbs, who was very interested. "Soon she had created a small sculpture in her studio," Greene said.
According to Darrow, Stubbs was so enthused about the project she did extensive research to create a historically appropriate costume. "There were only paintings at that point, from the bust up," Darrow explained.
Mount Holyoke got involved with the project when Greene invited Rochelle Calhoun '83, executive director of the Alumnae Association, to see the statue in Stubbs's studio. Calhoun arranged for funding to purchase the sculpture for the College. Marianne Doezema, art museum director, praised the sculpture, saying, "This statue quite forcefully conveys not only Mary Lyon's features, which were striking, but a sense of her personality." The work will stand in the display area of the archives.