|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series: UTS and student files, and Correspondence and other files.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains Lyman's UTS alumna records, including correspondence, news clippings, photographs, and other materials documenting her early coursework at Union, her graduate studies at Cambridge and University of Chicago, as well as her teaching career at UTS. The collection also includes correspondence between Lyman and UTS Presidents Henry Sloane Coffin, Henry Pitney Van Dusen, and John Bennett; papers regarding her UTS faculty appointment and ordination; and memorial and biographical information, as well as personal correspondence with husband Eugene Lyman and with secretary and friend Helen Wells.
Burke Library record group:
Union Theological Seminary Archives: UTS 1, papers of faculty and students
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.
The following boxes are located offsite: Box 1-2. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, UTS1: Mary Ely Lyman papers, 1916-1996, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was formed from Lyman's UTS President's Office faculty file and from her UTS Alumni Office records file. Accession UTS1-2021-009 was donated by Paul Wells and added to the collection in 2021.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Some material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-12. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were photocopied on acid-free paper and/or separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. In 2015, the collection was updated as part of the Henry Luce Foundation grant. At this time, the collection was split into two boxes. In 2021, accession UTS1-2021-009, Lyman's correspondence with Helen Wells, was added to the collection by Leah Edelman. The finding aid was created by Alexis Waller in 2009, updated by Brigette Kamsler in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and updated and edited by Leah Edelman in 2021.
2021-02-04 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Known affectionately by family and students as Merrily, Mary Redington Ely Lyman was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont on November 24, 1887 and died in Claremont, California on January 9, 1975. Lyman received her B.A. from Mt. Holyoke College in 1911 and graduated with a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary in 1919. She was also was the first woman to receive the Traveling Fellowship for the highest academic honors in the graduating class that year. This award sent her to Cambridge, England for one year. The work she did there was applied toward a Ph.D. in New Testament, which she received from the University of Chicago in 1924. Lyman became the first of two women (with Sophia Lyon Fahs) to teach on the faculty at UTS in 1927. In 1937, Mt. Holyoke College awarded Lyman an honorary Litt.D. She 'retired' from her position on Union faculty in the 1940s when her husband and professor of the philosophy of religion, Eugene William Lyman, retired. She then became dean of Sweet Briar College for Women in Virginia, until her appointment to Union in 1950 as Jesup Professor of English Bible. Dr. Lyman was the first woman to hold a full professorship and an endowed chair at Union. She also held the inaugural deanship for women students until her resignation from both positions in 1955. She remained in close contact with Union until her death in 1975. Lyman was a meticulous exegete whose focus was interpretation of biblical texts in their contexts and the relevance of biblical texts for contemporary lives and communities. An ordained Congregational minister (1949), she also wrote many articles in support of the Social Gospel movement and women's inclusion in church leadership.