Mary Inda Hussey

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Mary Inda Hussey (June 17, 1876 – June 20, 1952) was an American Assyriologist and professor.


Hussey was born June 17, 1876 in New Vienna, Ohio.[1][2] Raised in a Quaker family, she identified as a pacifist and was active in the Society of Friends. Hussey moved with her family to Richmond, Indiana in 1890 where she obtained a bachelor of arts at Earlham College.[3] She continued her studies at Bryn Mawr College focusing on Assyriology and cuneiform.[2] Before obtaining her PhD in 1906 from Bryn Mawr under the supervision of George A. Barton, she undertook graduate work alongside the leading researchers in her field. She studied at the University of Pennsylvania where Morris Jastrow Jr., Hermann Volrath Hilprecht and Albert Tobias Clay were faculty members, before attending the University of Berlin, where Friedrich Delitzsch was a lecturer, and continuing on to the University of Leipzig where she studied with Heinrich Zimmern.[1][2][4] Her doctoral thesis was titled Some Sumerian-Babylonian Hymns of the Berlin Collection and appeared in a 1907 edition of the American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures.[4]

In 1907 Hussey accepted at position at Wellesley College where she taught biblical history until 1909.[2] In 1910 she received a Baltimore Fellowship which allowed her to begin work deciphering Sumerian tablets at the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The work was extended for another year when she was named an Alice Freeman Palmer fellow by Wellesley College. During the same period she worked as an assistant at the Museum.[5] Her time at the Museum coincided with the tenure of founding curator David Gordon Lyon.[1]

Hussey began working at the Mount Holyoke College in 1913 when she was appointed to the Department of Biblical History and Literature.[2] During a leave of absence in 1931, Hussey served as annual professor at the American Center of Oriental Research in Jerusalem.[3][6] She had served as field secretary for the organization for fourteen years and was the first woman invited to act as annual professor.[4] Hussey retired from the College in 1941 and went on to teach classes at Wellesley College.[3][2]

Over the course of her career Hussey lectured on a number of subjects, but continued to actively pursue her work regarding the translation and interpretation of Sumerian texts and tablets. Of the 96 texts that appeared the Early Mesopotamian Incantations and Rituals, 29 were copied by Hussey during her 1920s.[7] She continued her research well past retirement, having nearly completed a volume of Akkadian tablets held in Yale Babylonian Collection at the time of her death.[1][3]

Hussey died June 20, 1952 in Andover, Massachusetts due to complications from a heart condition while attending annual meeting of the New England Society of Friends.[1][6] She was remembered in an obituary by the New York Times as "a linguist of note" who was known for "digging up, translating and analyzing the most ancient written records."

Select bibliography[edit]

  • Hussey, Mary Inda (1 January 1901). "A Supplement to Brünnow's Classified List of Cuneiform Ideographs". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 22: 201–220. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  • Hussey, Mary Inda (1 January 1907). "Some Sumerian-Babylonian Hymns of the Berlin Collection". The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures. 23: 142–176. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  • Hussey, Mary Inda (1 January 1913). "Tablets from Dréhem in the Public Library of Cleveland, Ohio". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 33: 167–179. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  • Hussey, Mary Inda (1 January 1916). "A Conveyance of Land Dated in the Reign of Ellil-bâni". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 36: 34–36. Retrieved 26 October 2017.


  1. ^ a b c d e Stephens, Ferris J. (1952). "Mary Inda Hussey in Memoriam". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (127): 3–4. doi:10.2307/3218774. JSTOR 3218774.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Bernon (2012). "Hussey, Mary Inda (1876-1952)". In Taylor, Marion Ann; Choi, Agnes. Handbook of women Biblical interpreters a historical and biographical guide. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic. ISBN 9781441238672.
  3. ^ a b c d Myers, Jennie. "Mary Inda Hussey". Women in Old World Archaeology. Brown. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Myers, Jennie. "Mary Inda Hussey" (PDF). Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  5. ^ Singer, Sandra L. (2003). Adventures abroad : North American women at German-speaking universities, 1868-1915. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9780313323713. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Dr. Mary I. Hussey, Noted Linguist, 76 Professor Emeritus of Religion at Mt. Holyoke, an Authority on Ancient Writings, Dies". New York Times. 23 June 1952. p. 19.
  7. ^ Hallo, William H. (1999). "More Incantations and Rituals from the Yale Babylonian Collection". In Abusch, Tzvi. Mesopotamian magic : textual, historical, and interpretative perspectives. Groningen: Styx Publ. ISBN 9789056930332.