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Our Souls Are by Nature Equal to Yours: The Legacy of Judith Sargent Murray

Sept. 28, 2019 — March 31, 2020

 

The Museum is closed until further notice and all programs and exhibitions have been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Please check back for updates and sign up for our weekly emails to stay in touch. Revised exhibition dates will be announced as soon as possible.

 

Judith Sargent Murray was an advocate for women’s rights at a time when few women were making public their desire for equality; over time she has become an icon for the city of Gloucester and an important figure in the history of women in Colonial America. To advance scholarship and contribute to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Sargent House Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Cape Ann Museum and the Sargent House Museum have partnered to organize a special exhibition and educational programming focused on the life and legacy of Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820). The central component of this special exhibition is John Singleton Copley’s three quarter length oil on canvas portrait of Murray, generously on loan to the Cape Ann Museum from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The portrait is on display at the Museum through March 31, 2020 and is accompanied by examples of Murray’s letter books on loan from the Mississippi State Archives, correspondence between her and President George Washington on loan from the Library of Congress, and examples of Murray’s published works including her book, The Gleaner, published in 1798.

The exhibition is augmented by educational and outreach programming that delves deeper into Judith Sargent Murray’s life and accomplishments, allowing visitors to draw parallels between Murray’s ideas and present day efforts to “level the playing field” in terms of equality between the sexes. Lectures will be presented focusing on Murray; on other 18th century American women writers and philosophers; on the art of John Singleton Copley; and on women’s roles in the American Revolution and the early Republic. Among the presenters will be Sheila L. Skemp, a professor of History at the University of Mississippi and author of First Lady of Letters:  Judith Sargent Murray and the Struggle for Female Independence.

 

Exhibition Related Programs

Judith Sargent Murray: A Complicated Woman
Saturday, January 25, 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Sheila Skemp

A Conversation with Copley
Saturday, February 8, 11:30 a.m.
Presented by Daud Alzayer

Promises and Limits of the New Republic
Saturday, February 29, 1:00 p.m.
Presented by Joanne Pope Melish, Kabria Baumgartner, Bethany Jay and Lise Breen

Redefining Women: The Impact of the Revolution on Gender Ideology
Saturday, March 7, 1:00 p.m.
Presented by Carol Berkin and Elizabeth Matelski

 

This exhibition was made possible through a partnership with the Terra Foundation and the Sargent House Museum. 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.

 


    

Image credit: John Singleton Copley, American, 1738–1815. Portrait of Mrs. John Stevens (Judith Sargent, later Mrs. John Murray), 1770–72. Oil on canvas (50 x 40 in. unframed). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund. Photography ©Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.
 

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