For some, the name Mary Gingrich Stuckenberg (1849-1934) is synonymous with working with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, raising funds for the American Church in Berlin, or founding the Woman’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. For others, she is known as the wife of John Henry Wilbrand Stuckenberg, the noted Lutheran theologian, pastor, author, teacher, sociologist and Civil War chaplain. (Mary called him “Wilburn” and her “heart friend.”) Yet here in the mid-Atlantic Mary also touched the lives of countless members of the Gettysburg College community as founder and first president of the Woman’s General League of Gettysburg College. Founded in 1911, the League’s initial purpose was to raise funds in support of the College’s religious programs and activities. Using a model she developed some thirty years earlier to encourage participation in the Woman’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society, Mary recruited and mobilized Lutheran women in cities and towns across Pennsylvania and Maryland to form branch leagues in their communities in support of the General League. Today a chapter of the Woman’s General League is one of the oldest volunteer organizations in existence at Gettysburg College. Over the past 100 years, the League has raised more than $1 million for chapel, curricular, co-curricular, coeducation and other purposes.
Mary lived in Gettysburg on and off during her lifetime. She was a member of the woman’s auxiliary at Christ Lutheran Church. Her cremated remains are buried with Wilburn’s in a grave in the National Cemetery. Together, they left a rich collection of letters and papers to Gettysburg College. These are now catalogued in Musselman Library’s Special Collections department at the College.