Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's In YOUR Bag?

Imagine for a moment that you have just quit your job. You will now abruptly transition from being an assistant principal at Ipswich Female Seminary to spending all of your time and energy raising money to found Mount Holyoke, one of the first institutions of higher education for women. You travel for three years seeking donations, despite the severe economic depression. According to common legend, you collect these funds in a small green velvet bag.

You single-handedly circulate advertisements for the school, convince influential people to support your mission, and conduct research on various other forms of education. Once you have raised the funds and support, you oversee the foundation of the seminary, from the construction of the building and purchase of equipment to the hiring of teachers and selection of students.

Mary Lyon's green velvet bag
Mary Lyon accomplished all of this when she worked from 1834 to 1837 to found Mount Holyoke Seminary. Despite the many critics who told her that higher education was not suitable for women, and despite her constant exhaustion from her busy life, Mary Lyon persisted in her mission.

LITS has been inspired by Mary Lyon and her green bag to begin a new student outreach and social media campaign, called "What's in YOUR Bag?"  This content will connect with Mount Holyoke's new branding campaign.

We will be welcoming the incoming students (Class of 2017, Frances Perkins Scholars, and transfer students) with a gift of a canvas tote bag during Orientation Week (August 28th-September 3rd). The bag says "Ideas Grow Here," and contains informative materials, buttons, and helpful tips on how to navigate the library.

We are hoping to make a connection between Mary Lyon's green velvet bag, and the tote bags being given out to the new students (with a green handle for Green Griffins)! Both bags contain important physical items: in Mary Lyon's bag, the funds for Mount Holyoke, and in the LITS tote bags, helpful and fun materials for new students. But they also hold less tangible qualities, like Mary Lyon's spirit and dedication, and the courage and passion of our incoming students.

A sample of how the #MarysBag tweets will look!
We are using the concept of the bag as a jumping-off point for our social media campaign. We hope this project will act as a mechanism to encourage discussion and reflection on the qualities that the MHC community embodies.

We would like to hear from you to contribute to this campaign! The content will appear mostly on Twitter, using the hashtag #MarysBag. We would like to know what you keep in YOUR bag.

These can be anything from character attributes like leadership and resourcefulness, to physical items like your reusable water bottle from Commencement or euros from your trip to Amsterdam. In essence, we want to know what Mount Holyoke has given you, and what you give to Mount Holyoke.

Please comment on this post or tweet at @ASCatMHC with what's in YOUR bag by Friday, August 30th!

Photograph of Mary Lyon's Green Velvet Bag, circa 1837, Mount Holyoke College Archives & Special Collections, Mary Lyon Collection 
Office of Communications. "The Founding of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary." Mount Holyoke College. 2013. Web. <>.

Check out the Archives and Special Collections' social media sites!

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