Philosopher, Educator and A Woman of Vision: Canterbury New Hampshire’s Dr. Mary Mills Patrick (1850-1940)

A young Mary Mills Patrick, From estate of from the estate of the late Donald D. Pelton. Used with permission of Dave Sams.

A young Mary Mills Patrick, From estate of the late Donald D. Pelton. Used with permission of Dave Sams.


Mary Mills Patrick was born 10 March 1850 in Canterbury, New Hampshire to John & Harriet (White) Patrick. At a young age she moved with her family to the Mid-West (Iowa). There she attended school, graduating from Lyon’s College with a degree of A.M., and studying at the University of Iowa. Later she studied at the European Universities of Heidelberg, Zurich, Leipzig, and Berlin. From the University of Berne, Switzerland she obtained the degree of Ph.D. She received an honorary degree of L.L.D. from Smith College in 1914 and Litt.D. from Columbia University in 1922.

She became President of the American College for Girls at Constantinople, Turkey, the only one for higher education at that time for women in the near east [later called the American College at Istanbul, and now called Üsküdar American Academy]. Before teaching was curtailed during World War I its students were Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs [per New Orleans States newspaper dated 10 March 1919]. In 1922 a newspaper reported that Five hundred women of 20 nationalities attend the college. She was frequently in American newspapers, and she raised significant funds to build a new school.

patrick mary mills from internet archive

Photograph of Mary Mills Patrick from Leavening the Levant, by Rev. Joseph K. Greene, D.D., published in 1916.

In June of 1914 the Sultan Mehemet V conferred the Order of the Shefkat on Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, in recognition of her services to the cause of higher education for women in the Near East. The order was presented to her on the dedication of the new buildings for the college on the European side of the Bosporus.

This newspaper article from The New York Times, dated Friday, April 18, 1924, explains the many educational contributions of this amazing woman: “Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, founder of Constantinople Woman’s College and its President for the past thirty-four years, has resigned, according to a cable received yesterday at the New York offices of Near East Colleges. Dr. Patrick has a record of more than fifty-three continuous years of service in connection with educational work among women in the Near East. She will return to America at the close of the present college year. Her resignation was confirmed yesterday by Dr. Albert W. Staub, American Director of Near East Colleges at 18 East Forty-first Street, who said: “It has been known for some time that Dr. Patrick wished to retire,” he said. She is the dean among American workers in Turkey. Her active service is the longest on record of American educational work in the Near East. At the urgent request of the trustees she has consented to remain at the head of the administration of the college until the end of the academic year. Dr. Patrick went to Turkey first in 1871 and was engaged in work at Erzerum in Eastern Anatolia. She mastered the native languages and translated several English textbooks for use in the American school. She was called to Constantinople, where she became the principal of the high school founded shortly before under the American Woman’s Board. Under her able administration, the school was transformed into a college, which in 1890 was incorporate by the Legislature of the Common wealth of Massachusetts as the American College for Girls. Sultan Abdul Hamid granted the college an imperial trade of special privileges in recognition of its service to the young women of the country. In 1914 the college was transferred to splendid new buildings on the banks of the Bosporus which were the gift of Mrs. Helen Gould Shepard, Miss Olivia Phelps Stokes, Mrs. Henry Woods, Mrs. Russell Sage, William Bingham 2d and Mr. Rockefeller. On this occasion Dr. Patrick was presented with the Ottoman Imperial Order of the Shefakat as a tribute to her services in the higher education of women in Turkey.” Miss Kathryn Newell Adams was appointed to succeed Dr. Patrick at a recent meeting of the trustees in New York. Miss Adams is a graduate of Oberlin and Radcliffe. Before taking up her work in the Near East, Miss Adams was the dean of women at Beloit College.

Photograph: "Mary Mills Patrick". Embryo Project Encyclopedia (1926).

Photograph: “Mary Mills Patrick”. Embryo Project Encyclopedia (1926).

At her death, the Springfield Republican (Springfield MA) of 27 February 1940, page 9 reported: “FOUNDER OF COLLEGE AT ISTANBUL DEAD.” Palo Alto, Cal., Feb. 26–(AP)–Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, 89, founder and president emeritus of the College for Women at Istanbul, died of a heart attack yesterday. Dr. Patrick, who for half a century was a leader in Women’s education in the Near East, was born in Canterbury, N.H., and educated at the Universities of Iowa, Heidelberg, Zurich, Leipzig and Berne. She held honorary degrees from Columbia and Bryn Mawr. She was the author of several books on philosophy and recent educational developments in Turkey. She came to Palo Alto eight years ago.” She is modestly buried, in Canterbury Village Cemetery, in Canterbury, New Hampshire.


Mary Mills Patrick: The Story of a Woman of Vision, by Helen Philbrook Patten, The Granite Monthly, July 1926

Sappho and the Island of Lesbos

Sextus Empiricus and Greek Skepticism

The Ethics of the Koran

Mary Mills Patrick’s & Turkish Girls: American College in the Orient

An Educational Ambassador to the Near East. The Story of Mary Mills Patrick and an American College in the Orient, by Hester Donaldson Jenkins, Ph.D.


Matthew Patrick, b. in 1681 [possibly in Dumfries-shire, Scotland] and d. (according to gravestone record) 10 Nov 1767 in Warren MA. At one time it was believed he came from the North of Ireland about 1724, and settled among a coloney of Scots-Irish in Western (now Warren) MA. He married Mary ?Tuck. She b. abt 1682 and d. abt 1714 in Western, Worcester Co. MA.
Children of Matthew & Mary (Tuck) Patrick:
1. +John Patrick, b. 1708 in Warren MA
2. Thomas Patrick, b abt 1715 in Warren MA; d. 1808 Warren MA; m. Sarah Johnson. Had 12 children: Thomas, Margaret, Samuel, Sarah, Catherine, Johnson, Anna, Sally, William, Elizabeth, Asa, and Reuben (in no specific order).
3. Isaac Patrick, b abt 1718 in Tyrone, Ireland
4. Matthew Patrick, was Rep. to the General Court from the town of Warren MA, voted the Federal Constitution.

John Patrick, son of Matthew & Mary (Tuck) Patrick. He was b. 1708 in Warren MA and d. 17 Dec 1794. He married Rebecca Wiley of Blandford MA. She b 1717 and d. 24 April 1802. He was admitted an inhabitant of Western (now Warren MA) in Nov 1734 when he bought the farm of Joseph Brooks Sr., in 1735 named freeman. He held the office of selectman in Warren MA in 1754, 1761, 1773, 1775, 1776.
Children of John & Rebecca (Wiley) Patrick:
1. Matthew Patrick, b. 1740, d. 30 April 1827; m. Mary Young of Brimfield MA
2. Isaac Patrick, b. 1740, d. 27 Apr 1812; m. 1 Nov 1770 to Jane Anderson. She b. 1745
3. Rev. Joseph Patrick, b. 1744, d. 1783, aged 38
4. +John Patrick, b. 3 Aug 1746 in Warren MA
5. Mary Patrick, b. 1749 in Warren MA; d. 6 Aug 1761 in Warren MA.
6. Sarah Patrick, b. 10 Aug 1752 in Warren MA; m. 11 Aug 1778 to Ruben Boise.

John Patrick, son of John & Rebecca (Wiley) Patrick, b. 3 August 1746 in Warren MA, d. 30 Jan 1837 in Warren MA. He married 14 Oct 1772 [Worcester MA, per Early Massachusetts Marriages Prior to 1800] to Elizabeth McFarland. She b. 19 Aug 1750 and d. 1824. In 1809 John Patrick; He owned No 5. Lot in the North Division in Western (renamed Warren) MA, formerly owned by Abel Curtice.
Children of of John & Elizabeth (McFarland) Patrick:
1. + Rev. William Patrick, b. 4 July 1773 in Warren MA

Rev. William Patrick, son of John & Elizabeth (McFarland) Patrick, b. 4 July 1773 in Warren, MA, and d. 25 Oct 1862. He married 1st) 15 August 1805 in Boscawen NH to Mary Gerrish, daughter of Col. Joseph & Mary (Bartlett) Gerrish of Boscawen. She was b. 17 Oct 1784 and d. 21 Oct 1825. He m2d) 7 Feb 1827 to Mary Mills of Dunbarton NH, daughter of Deacon John Mills. She was b. 24 Sep 1790 and d. 12 Feb 1866. All are buried in Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury NH. He graduated from Williams College in 1799 and studied for the ministry, receiving his license to preach in June of 1801. He was ordained pastor of the Congregational Church in Canterbury NH 25 October 1803. This was his first and only charge. He purchased a farm later occupied by George H. Gale on which he lived until 1843, when he resigned his pastorate and moved to Boscawen NH. He was never again a settled pastor although he preached for several years longer.
Children of Rev. William & Mary (Gerrish) Patrick:
1. Eliza Mary Patrick, b. 19 Jan 1807, d. 11 March 1823
2. Joseph Gerrish Patrick, b. 25 Feb 1809, d. 25 Nov 1852 in Solon, Ohio; m. 18 June 1832 Apphia Amanda Morrill, daughter of Ezekiel and Betsey (Stevens) Morrill of Canterbury NH. Children, b. in Solon, Ohio: (1) Mary Amanda Patrick b 1 Sep 1837, d 31 Jan 1908 in Canterbury NH; (2) Eliza Ann, b. 3 Nov 1840, d. 10 July 1880 in Lincoln Nebraska, m. 15 May 1866 Aldus Cody of E. Cleveland Ohio., (3) William Patrick, b. 25 Jan 1845, d. 16 Dec 1863 in Solon Ohio; (4) Morrill Patrick, b. 5 Oct 1846, d. 16 March 1864 in Solon Ohio.
3. William McFarland Patrick, b. 27 May 1810, d. 16 Jan 1877; m. and had two children, Ellen and Deliah
4. John Patrick, b. 19 Aug 1812, d. 8 June 1821
5. Samuel Patrick, b. 26 March 1815; d. Dec 1887. Married. Children (1) Emerline Patrick b 1838/1839, m1) Samuel Vaughn; (2) John Fordice Patrick b 2 Oct 1846; (3) Dr. Joseph Bartlett Patrick, m.; (4) Frank Patrick, d. 10 Jan 1882; (5) Carrie Patrick, died young.
6. Levi Bartlett Patrick, b. 20 July 1817, d. 23 June 1844
7. +John Patrick 2nd, b. 13 May 1822 in Canterbury, Merrimack Co. NH

John Patrick son of Rev William & Mary (Gerish) Patrick b. 13 May 1822 in Canterbury, Merrimack Co. NH, d 28 May 1889; m. 1st) 12 July 1848 Harriett “Hattie” White, daughter of Thomas R. and Mary H. (May) White of Franklin NH. She b. 30 D3c 1852, d. 8 March 1873. He m2d) 17 Aug 1874 to Margarett Craveling. She b 24 Dec 1849 Resided Canterbury NH. He removed to Lyons, Iowa. [History of Canterbury NH]
1850 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Boscawen
John Patrick M 37 NH
Harriet Patrick F 34 NH
Mary M. Patrick F 10 NH
Ellen H. Patrick F 5 NH
George W. Patrick M 2 NH
William Patrick M 87 MA
Mary Patrick F 69 MA
Children of John & Harriet (White) Patrick:

Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left, published between 1910 and 1930; Library of Congress.

Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left, published between 1910 and 1930; Library of Congress.

1. Mary Mills Patrick, b. 10 March 1850 in Canterbury NH. She was President of the American College for Girls, Constantiople. She took her degree at Bern University, Switzerland. Author of books on Greek Philosophy. She died 25 February 1940 in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, California. Her passport states she stood 5 ft. 4-1/2 inches tall and had brown eyes.  [this blog article is about her, see above].
2. Ellen Harriet Patrick, b. 13 Dec 1854 in Canterbury NH, d. 1 Jan 1931 in Vero Beach, Indian River, FL, age 76 years; Resided in Chicago IL. She m. 18 Aug 1874 to Howard F. Smith, son of Sumner R. Smith. He was b. 25 May 1851 at Rockport IL. Graduate of Lafayette College, Easton PA. Child: Sumner Ives Smith, b. 7 Dec 1887 at Lyons IA, a graduate of Mass University of Technology in 1901 and m. 29 June 1909 Ada Ellen Burkans of Elkhart, Ind. She b. 26 May 1881.
3. George T.W. Patrick, b. 19 Aug 1857 in Boscawen NH. Professor of Mental Philosophy in the University of Iowa. He m. 28 Nov 1889 Maud Lyall, daughter of William and Janette (Buck) Lyall. Child: David Lyall b. 25 October 1899 in Iowa City IA.
4. Elizabeth McFarland Patrick, b. 7 April 1863 in Boscawen NH; m. 16 Jan 1888 to Homer D. Webster. He b. 6 June 1858 in Columbus Ohio, and d. 2 Feb 1902. Children: (1) Helen Harriett Webster b 18 Jan 1889; (2) Mary Hallack Webster b 8 June 1890; (3) Louis Harvy Webster b 3 Mary 1893
5. John Bartlett Patrick, b. 6 March 1873, died 12 Feb 1950 in Yakima, Yakima, Washington. Resided in Illo Idaho. He married 21 March 1915 in Seventy-nine, Musselshell, Montana to Cora E. Boyd, daughter of Louis H. & Lydia A. (Olmstead) Boyd.
Child of John & Margarett (Craveling) Patrick
6. Alexander Gerrish “Alex” Patrick, b. 25 Nov 1875; resided in Lyons Iowa. He m. Lottie B. Pelton.


History of the Town of Canterbury, NH, 1727-1912 by James Otis Lyford, in Two Volumes, by James Otis Lyford, Vol One, Narrative, 1912 | [Volume 2]

Patrick Family Web Site

[Editor’s Note: And yes, once again the subject of my story is related, although in a distant way.  Mary Mills Patrick is my 2nd cousin 1x removed of husband of 1st cousin 1x removed of husband of 3rd great grand aunt.  Really.]

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3 Responses to Philosopher, Educator and A Woman of Vision: Canterbury New Hampshire’s Dr. Mary Mills Patrick (1850-1940)

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  3. Marybeth webster says:

    As MM Patrick’s grand niece, I followed her life course as closely as I could: got a PhD in 1977, was an educator, founded an experimental High school in Honolulu, but I married, had four children, divorced, became a Registered Art therapist and practiced until I was 84.

    Her younger sister, Elizabeth McFarland Patrick was my paternal grandmother who lived next door to me for 20 years. I am Marybeth Webster, daughter of her nephew Lewis Harvey Webster and Harriet Carolyn Northrup Webster, all born in Grand Junction, Colorado.

    I had one brother, Harvey Daniel Webster who was the music critic of the Philadelphia enquirer, died at 88 in 2018. I was born in 1929 and am still active in the arts and in social action in Grants Pass, OR. I have three living children. My son, William Webster Buddenhagen died of cancer in 2015. I have three grandchildren and two great grands.

    I would like to her from any relatives.

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