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Mary Catherine Lyne Papers

Identifier: SC 0046
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Mary Catherine Lyne Papers, 1942-2001, contain photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, memos, programs, and other personal papers relating to Lyne’s time spent in SPARS during World War II. The collection also contains papers compiled by Lyne’s niece, Kitty Landess, concerning the Lyne’s death in 2001.

Materials related to SPARS events include a program from a 1945 event called “Mlle Muster for Spars,” which was likely an event co-sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine and focused on re-acclimating SPARS women to their post-war lives. Accompanying the “Mlle Muster for Spars” program is a two-page essay recounting the event. Additional event materials include a program for the play “Wet Behind the Ears” by the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School, a memo from the District Coast Guard Office of New York City regarding uniform regulations, program from SPAR reunion of 1947, a series of ink drawings by Kay Stuurman, and a copy of the “Spar Song Book” containing sheet music.

Rounding out the collection of SPARS-related items are 13 black-and-white photographs of SPARS women, including Mary Catherine Lyne, SPARS Director Captain Dorothy C. Stratton, and Henrietta Baker. Of particular interest is a photograph of Lyne sitting at the desk of L. Spencer (presumably Lyndon Spencer) reading a brochure with cigarette in hand. The inscription on the verso reads: “Mary Catherine Lyne (This is a doctored photo!) Mary is NOT L. Spencer rear admiral.”

Items compiled by Lyne’s niece, Kitty Landess, include a death notice written by Landess and a copy of Lyne’s obituary.


  • 1942-2001


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

Mary Catherine Lyne was born on December 10, 1916 in Charles Town, West Virginia to Sue Legge and John Julian Lyne. Lyne enrolled at the State Teachers College in 1936 and graduated in 1940 with a degree in high school education. She participated in many extracurricular activities as a member of the Cotillion Club, the Lee Literary Society, Y. W. C. A., the Lost Chords musical organization, and The Breeze editorial staff as feature editor and editor-in-chief. She served as president of Kappa Delta Pi, an education honor society, and was her freshman class treasurer and sophomore class president.

Rather than enter teaching, Lyne instead worked as an editorial assistant for a monthly trade magazine. Lyne joined the military in 1943 as a member of the first class of SPARS – the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard created during World War II. SPARS was an acronym of the first letters of the Coast Guard motto and its English translation, Semper Paratus Always Ready. SPARS was deactivated in 1947, at which point Lyne was discharged as a Lieutenant of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Lyne continued her writing career, working for the U.S. Public Health Service, the United States Information Agency, and the Inter Press Service. Lyne also coauthored Three Years Behind the Mast, a history of SPARS.

Lyne spent most of her adult life in Silver Spring, Maryland before moving to Charlottesville in 1993. She died on August 20, 2001 in Charlottesville and was interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.


0.16 cubic feet (3 legal folders)

Language of Materials



The Mary Catherine Lyne Papers, 1942-2001, contain photographs, programs, memos, and newspaper clippings related to Mary Catherine Lyne’s time spent serving in the SPARS (the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard) from 1943 to 1947.


The collection is arranged topically in four folders.

Acquisition Information

These papers were donated to Lisa Horsch of James Madison University by Kitty Landess at the request of Emily Lewis Lee in preparation for the founding of the World War II Memorial Patio at Leeolou Alumni Center in 2002.

Related Material

Lyne, Mary C. and Kay Arthur. Three Years Behind the Mast: The Story of The United States Coast Guard SPARS. Washington, 1946.


  • The Schoolma'am, 1940. Harrisonburg (Va.): Madison College.
  • "United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 December 2015), Mary K Lyne in entry for John J Lyne, 1930.
A Guide to the Mary Catherine Lyne Papers, 1942-2001
Ellen Blackmon
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612