• Excerpt from the exhibition of photographs and documents: “Mary L. Matthews and the American School for girls in Bitola 1888-1920”
  • Organizers: Peggy Hanson, grand-niece of Mary Matthews, NI Institute and Museum Bitola, United Methodist Church in Macedonia, U.S. Embassy Skopje
  • Place: NI Institute and Museum Bitola – small hall
  • Date: October 5-15, 2017
  • Exhibition authors: Peggy Hanson, Christina Cekov, Jove Pargovski

Introduction

Ms. Peggy Hanson, grand-niece of Mary Matthews, is the organizer of the exhibit of historical documents in her family’s possession that chronicle Ms. Matthews’s life as a missionary at the American School for Girls in Bitola. The exhibition was set from October 5 to October 15, 2017 in the Small Hall of Institute and Museum Bitola, and visitors had the opportunity to view a large number of photographs and documents, courtesy of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA.
In her diaries, letters and pictures, Mary Matthews gave first-hand accounts of events in and around Bitola during her thirty-two years in the city. She witnessed the final years of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the Young Turk Revolution, the First Balkan War, Second Balkan War, and World War One. During these years, the American School for Girls was a principal institution in Bitola, offering classes taught in English and Macedonian to girls of varied ethnic backgrounds, and was the main American representation in the city.
Mary Matthews herself taught, supervised an orphanage after the Illinden Revolution, and treated students and teachers inflicted with disease. She gave haven to people who were threatened, offered assistance to refugees, coordinated with British and French generals and with whichever power was governing Bitola (Monastir) at the time.
She was, during the most violent years of WWI, the only American in the city. She was a colleague of Miss Ellen Stone, who became famous through her 1901 kidnapping, and took language lessons from the famous Gerasim Kyrias, who devised the modern Albanian alphabet. She was having tea with a British woman, Mrs. Harley, as she was killed by a German shell in 1917.
Mary Matthews loved Bitola, and felt it was her home.
NI Institute and Museum Bitola appreciates contributions to this exhibition by Mount Holyoke College, the American Embassy in Skopje, and Peggy Hanson and her family. Thank you also to Jove Pargovski from CHPO Bitola and Christina Cekov from United Methodist Church in Macedonia for their assistance in making this exhibit possible.

The exhibition consists of 22 panels with dimensions of 600×400 mm showing photographs and documents. In order to better display the photos on the web, they are displayed individually in a photo gallery with the original English title and Macedonian translation.

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