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Now for something completely different (XLIX)

26 Jul

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Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820) was an early American advocate for equality of the sexes —that women, like men, had the capability of intellectual accomplishment and should be able to achieve economic independence. her landmark essay “On the Equality of the Sexes,” published in the Massachusetts Magazine in March and April 1790 predated Mary Wollstonecraft’s publication of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” in 1792.  She first noticed the gender inequalities of her day when her younger brother Winthrop began studying the classics, a subject that her parents refused to provide for their daughter.  Primarily self-taught, Murray believed that with quality education, women’s accomplishments would equal those of men.   She used examples of women’s accomplishments dating to ancient times to prove her points and to provide leadership in what would become a long struggle for women to fulfill their potential and become fully empowered members of society.

Like 130 years of struggle.

Murray made copies of her correspondence to create a historical record for future generations – which were found in 1984 and were published on microfilm by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History where the original volumes reside (having moved to Natchez with her daughter).   Containing approximately 2,500 letters, Murray’s letter books make up one of the few surviving collections of writings by women from this period in American history.

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