Judith Sargent Murray: A Complicated Woman

Saturday, January 25

3:00 p.m.

Exhibit Openings & Events

Presented by Sheila Skemp, Clare Leslie Marquette Professor of History at the University of Mississippi and Judith Sargent Murray biographer

Judith Sargent Murray always characterized herself as a supremely rational person. In reality, like virtually all of us, her life and her views were filled with anomalies and contradictions. Some of those contradictions were small and unimportant, but others—especially her attitudes toward class and gender differences—were profoundly troubling and never truly resolved.

Free and open to the public; reservations required. Reserve online at Eventbrite or call (978)283-0455 x10.




This program was made possible through a partnership with the Terra Foundation and the Sargent House Museum and is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Our Souls Are by Nature Equal to Yours: The Legacy of Judith Sargent Murray, on display at the Cape Ann Museum through March 2020. Additional funding was received from Mass Humanities, which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sheila Skemp is the Clare Leslie Marquette Professor Emerita in American History at the University of Mississippi. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History at the University of Montana in 1967 and her PhD in History at the University of Iowa in 1974. She is the author or editor of ten books, most of them focused on Benjamin and William Franklin or Judith Sargent Murray. She was fortunate to have been in Mississippi when Murray’s Letter Books were found and given to the Mississippi Department of Archives. Skemp is the recipient of a number of teaching awards at the University. She also served as acting director of the Women’s Center—a task that she undertook reluctantly and left with great pleasure. 

Credits: John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mrs. John Stevens (Judith Sargent, later Mrs. John Murray), 1770 –72. Oil on canvas, 50 × 40 in. (127 × 101.6 cm), Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2000.6. | Judith Sargent Murray to President George Washington, March 29, 1798. GW Papers, vol. 287-item 104; Series 4, General Correspondence, 1697–1799. Collection of the Library of Congress.

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