On Display: Unlocked

Mary Lyon’s Key

The key, thought to be made of brass, measures five inches in length and hangs on a circular ring measuring five inches across. Photo by Joanna Chattman

The key, thought to be made of brass, measures five inches in length and hangs on a circular ring measuring five inches across. Photo by Joanna Chattman

Few details are known about the key to Mount Holyoke’s original Seminary building, but the Archives and Special Collections counts it among its collection. A skeleton key on an oversized circular ring, the key belonged to Mary Lyon, who used it to access the Seminary’s main entrance. The building housed every function of the school: dormitory, classrooms, gymnasium, library, teachers’ residence, dining room, kitchen, bakery, laundry, heating plant, and business office. The key has also been among the items presented to new presidents of Mount Holyoke during the inauguration ceremony.

This article appeared in the spring 2016 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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