Mary Matthews' Biography
Mary Louisa Matthews was born on August 28, 1864 in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary from September 1880 to June 1883, and was an active member of the Mount Holyoke Missionary Association. She left school before her expected graduation due to ill health.
Matthews taught for two years at Fisk University while applying to be a missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). She was appointed to Monastir, in European Turkey, and arrived in 1888 as a teacher at the American School for Girls. Her post lasted for 32 years, in which she took only three short furloughs to the United States, in 1893-1896, 1904-1905, and 1913-1915.
During her years at the American School for Girls, Matthews witnessed many geographical, political, and social changes, including the Young Turks' Revolution in 1908, the First and Second Balkan Wars in 1912-1913, and World War I from 1915-1918. Life at the American School consisted of academic and religious study, as well as relief work. Due to the multicultural nature of the region, Matthews’ work was often affected by political and wartime circumstances.
After the departure of principal Harriet L. Cole in 1909, Matthews was the head teacher at the American School and remained a primary missionary in the Monastir region until 1920. She left Monastir, for unknown reasons, in 1920 and spent the next few years in the United States. Eventually she returned to work as a teacher in the American School for Girls in Salonica, Greece, and was appointed as Foreign Secretary for the Near East, a position that revolved primarily around fundraising.
Matthews remained in close contact with many of her Monastir and other Near East associates, such as Rada Pavlova and Delpha Davis, throughout the rest of her life. She died in the United States in 1950.