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.