Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820
About the Judith Sargent Murray Society

Photo by Susan WilsonBonnie Hurd Smith first "met" Judith Sargent Murray in the 1980s while she was studying history, women's studies, and communications at Simmons College in Boston. She was invited by a relative to visit the Sargent House in Gloucester, Massachusetts (Judith's former home) to learn more about her.

There, taking many long trips from her home in Cambridge to Gloucester, Bonnie read Judith's three-volume book, The Gleaner, and she was hooked.

After studying the American Revolution while growing up in Concord, Massachusetts and continuing these studies at the college level, Bonnie couldn't believe she had never encountered Judith Sargent Murray.

Long story short, Bonnie completed an honors thesis on Judith, and then used her as the subject of a Master's thesis several years later at Simmons College when she created a marketing plan for Judith.

Bonnie was asked to join the board of the Sargent House Museum around 1990, which was comprised, mainly, of descendants of the owners of the house. Bonnie is descended from two of those families, and is Judith Sargent Murray's second cousin seven times removed.

Bonnie served as president of the museum from 1992 to 1996 and did everything possible to promote Judith Sargent Murray. It was during those years that the Reverend Gordon Gibson, a Unitarian Universalist minister, informed the museum that he had discovered Judith's letter books in Natchez, Mississippi—blank volumes into which Judith had made copies of letters to friends, family, political leaders, and business associates.

Bonnie immediately swung into action, publishing Judith's first one hundred letters in a commemorative edition, planning the first-ever conference on Judith Sargent Murray, and working with a local teacher to embed Judith's letters into the Gloucester Public Schools curriculum.

With the museum on sound financial footing, Bonnie stepped down from the board to pursue her own work on Judith Sargent Murray by founding the Judith Sargent Murray Society in 1996.

Since then, she has published books, monographs and articles, created a website, spoken at sites throughout New England and beyond, and collaborated on educational programs. She is also determined to transcribe, index, and publish each one of Judith's letter books—twenty in all.

As a public relations and marketing professional, Bonnie enjoys promoting Judith Sargent Murray and is dedicated to using any and all resources to weave Judith Sargent Murray back into the American story.

Bonnie 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.

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“No one, in my view, has done more than Bonnie Hurd Smith, through the ongoing publication and assessment of the recently discovered letters of Judith Sargent Murray of Gloucester, Massachusetts, to establish the position of this remarkable and courageous woman as one of our pioneer female intellectuals and patriots during the Revolutionary period.” 
—Joseph E. Garland, Gloucester historian