Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820
Talks on Judith Sargent Murray
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A Brief Biography of Judith Sargent Murray


Please visit our Books section to learn more about Bonnie's books.


Bonnie is well known for her passionate, inspiring talks on Judith Sargent Murray.
If you were hoping for a dull, dry lecture, you came to the wrong place!

She also leads Unitarian Universalist services on Judith, using Judith's story as a source of inspiration.

Please check her Schedule for upcoming appearances. Please contact her to schedule a date.


Recovering a Voice for Equality:
The Life & Letters of Judith Sargent Murray

Few women had a public voice in the days of the early republic, or left behind personal records of their experiences. But one woman, Judith Sargent Murray did both. Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1751 and a resident of Boston for almost twenty-five years, this well-known author and champion of female equality, education, economic independence, and political involvement kept letter books throughout her remarkable life. Blank volumes in which Murray made copies of the letters she wrote to family, friends, and political figures, her letter books offer a new eyewitness account of American history left behind by an observant, thoughtful woman who was also a professional writer. In 2003, Bonnie Hurd Smith initiated a multi-year project to transcribe, index, and publish all twenty of Murray’s letter books. In her illustrated talk, Bonnie discusses the fascinating content of Murray’s letter books, pairing excerpts from the letters with dozens of images that illustrate her life in Gloucester and Boston, her travels in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, and her observations of political figures, events, and ideas. One hour: 45-minute presentation, 15 minutes (plus) for questions.


Judith Sargent and John Murray:
An Eighteenth-century Love Story

Judith Sargent Stevens was twenty-three years old, lovely, and intellectually curious. John Murray was a robust thirty-three-year-old man whose charismatic presence and outgoing personality dominated the room. But Judith was married. Any thought of a romance with John was out of the question. Instead, Judith hoped they could “surely, and with the strictest propriety, mingle souls upon paper” by writing to each other. Using Judith Sargent Murray’s letters to tell the timeless love story of these two prominent eighteenth century figures, Bonnie Hurd Smith skillfully brings to life the story of their fourteen-year friendship, their twenty-seven-year marriage, and the many years they supported each others’ work with mutual respect and affection. This talk complements Bonnie's book "Mingling Souls Upon Paper": An Eighteenth-century Love Story which can be made available for sale as part of her talk. One hour: 45-minute presentation, 15 minutes (plus) for questions.


Forming a New Era in Female History:
The Life & Legacy of Judith Sargent Murray

In 1790, Judith Sargent Murray’s essay “On the Equality of the Sexes” appeared in the prestigious Massachusetts Magazine. It was the first of many essays she would write on female equality and abilities, calling for improved education for women, and economic and political rights. Her essay is considered the first public claim for female equality in America. Murray also used the power of her public literary voice—writing under a male pen name during the optimistic days of the New Republic—to encourage philanthropy, a virtuous citizenship, and a responsible republic; to decry violence and war, promote respect for Nature, and marriage equality. Using excerpts from Murray’s essays and personal letters, Bonnie Hurd Smith presents an engaging biographical sketch of a leading figure in the story of progress for women in America whose voice and impact are finally being recognized. One hour-plus: 60-minute presentation, 15 minutes (plus) for questions.


Learn more about Bonnie Hurd Smith's illustrated talks on other women's history subjects.


Independent scholar and author Bonnie Hurd Smith is the president and CEO of History Smiths, a marketing company that works with businesses to incorporate history -- their own and their community's -- into their branding, marketing, and community outreach to attract customers, boost customer loyalty, and secure a high status reputation in the communities they serve.