Collection Facts

Extent: 
21 items
Dates of Original: 
1877 - 1916
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

Mary Douglass Burnham (1832-1904) was a Deaconess, Director of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Diocese of Central New York, founder of the Dakota League, and live-in House Mother, Superintendent, and Treasurer of Current Receipts for the House and Hospital of the Good Shepherd in Syracuse. She was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on May 13, 1832 and in 1852 married Wesley Burnham, who worked in the sugar cane industry on the Sandwich Islands. She founded and was the president of the Dakota League in 1864, which supported Episcopal mission work among indigenous nations and was the predecessor organization to the Women’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions that formed in 1871. She established the Women’s Auxiliary of the Diocese of Central New York and became a deaconess in 1876, in addition to becoming the Head of the Diocesan Deaconess Order and Superintendent of the Hospital of the Good Shepherd. After visiting St. Augustine, Florida in 1878, she persuaded Bishop Frederic Dan Huntington to seek the transfer of David Pendleton Oakerhater of the Cheyenne Nation from the prison at Fort Marion to Central New York. He became an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and served for 50 years in the ministry in Oklahoma. She then went to Boston and became the superintendent of the Home for Incurables and the president of the Diocesan Woman’s Auxiliary. In 1892, she moved to Yonkers, New York and became the superintendent of St. John’s Hospital. At the end of her life, she was a hostess of a home for visiting missionaries in New York City, where she died on December 26, 1904.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains photographs from Mary D. Burnham, who was a Deaconess, Director of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Diocese of Central New York, founder of the Dakota League, and live-in House Mother, Superintendent, and Treasurer of Current Receipts for the House and Hospital of the Good Shepherd in Syracuse.