J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Bonnie Hurd Smith on Judith Murray in Boston, 14 Apr.

On Tuesday, 14 April, the Congregational Library in Boston will host a talk by Bonnie Hurd Smith titled “From the Writing Desk of Judith Sargent Murray.”

Murray was an essayist, poet, and playwright in the early American republic. She was among the country’s earliest champions of female equality, education, economic independence, and political engagement. She was also an advocate, with her husband John, for the more open “Universalist” approach to Christian theology.

Here’s a passage from Murray’s 1790 Massachusetts Magazine essay “On the Equality of the Sexes,” about the frustrations that an intelligent but uneducated woman can face:
At length arrived at womanhood, the uncultivated fair one feels a void, which the employments allotted her are by no means capable of filling. What can she do? to books she may not apply; or if she doth, to those only of the novel kind, lest she merit the appellation of a learned lady; and what ideas have been affixed to this term, the observation of many can testify. Fashion, scandal, and sometimes what is still more reprehensible, are then called in to her relief; and who can say to what lengths the liberties she takes may proceed. Meantime she herself is most unhappy; she feels the want of a cultivated mind.
Bonnie Hurd Smith has written six books about Murray. She also created women’s history walking tours in Boston and Salem, and served as Executive Director the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail and board president of the Sargent House Museum.

This event will start at noon. It is free, and the library asks that participants register through Eventbrite.

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