American women played in important part in Protestant foreign missionary work from its early days at the beginning of the nineteenth century, enabling them not only to disseminate religious principles but also to break into public life and create expanded opportunities for themselves and other women. No institution was more closely associated with women missionaries that Mount Holyoke College. This book examines Mount Holyoke founder Mary Lyon and the missionary women trained by her. Porterfield sees Lyon and her students as representative of dominant trends in American missionary thought before the Civil War. She focuses on how their activities in several parts of the world-particularly northwest Persia, Maharashtra in western India, and Natal in southeast Africa-and shows that while their primary goals remained elusive, antebellum missionary women made major contributions to cultural change and the development of new cultures.