Murray, Pauli, 1910-1985

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1910-11-20
Death 1985-07-01
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a lawyer, scholar, writer, educator, administrator, religious leader, civil rights and women's rights activist. She was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal minister. She spent much of her life in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

From the description of Proud shoes : the story of an American family : typescript, 1956 / by Pauli Murray. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122626035

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) lawyer, educator, author, and first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal minister (Hunter College, A.B.; Howard University, L.L.B.; Yale University J.S.D.) has been a leader in the field of human rights. She taught at Benedict College in N.C., at Brandeis University and taught law in Ghana, 1960-1961. She is the author of a family memoir, Proud Shoes, and a personal memoir, Song in a Weary Throat (1987).

From the description of Papers, 1971-1972 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232007807

African American lawyer, educator, author, and civil rights activist.

From the description of Papers, 1943-1944. (Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center). WorldCat record id: 70941190

Pauli Murray, lawyer, educator, author, and first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal minister (Hunter College, A.B.; Howard University, L.L.B.; Yale University, J.S.D.) was a leader in the field of human rights. She taught at Benedict College in North Carolina, at Brandeis University, and taught law in Ghana, 1960-1961. She was the author of a family memoir, Proud Shoes (1956), and a personal memoir, Song in a Weary Throat (1987). While working towards her master of laws degree at Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, California, Murray had a difficult relationship with her thesis advisor, Barbara N. Armstrong.

From the description of Inscription of Pauli Murray, 1970. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 629696799

Lawyer, civil rights activist, poet, teacher, and the first African-American woman to be ordained into the Anglican Communion, U.S.A.

From the description of Letter : to Family and friends, 1976 Dec. 21. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 28533944

Pauli Murray (1910-1985), lawyer, educator, and first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal minister (Hunter College, A.B.; Howard University, L.L.B.; Yale University, J.S.D.), has been a leader in the field of human rights. She taught at Benedict College in N.C., at Brandeis University , and taught law in Ghana, 1960-1961. She is the author of a family memoir, Proud Shoes, and a personal memoir, Song in a Weary Throat (1987).

From the description of Papers, 1977, 1981. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232007808

Pauli Murray (1910-1985), lawyer, educator, and first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal minister (Hunter College, A.B.; Howard University, L.L.B.; Yale University, J.S.D.), has been a leader in the field of human rights. She taught at Benedict College (N.C.), at Brandeis University, and taught law in Ghana, 1960-1961. She is the author of a family memoir, Proud Shoes, and a personal memoir, Song in a Weary Throat (1987). She was a friend of Ruth Friedland, who lived in New Haven, Conn., and who was her typist while Murray was working on her dissertation.

From the description of Papers, 1965-1971 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122506729

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series IV, 1926-1985 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008667

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series I, 1827-1985 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008664

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series II, 1935-1984 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008665

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series III, 1855-1985 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008666

African American activist Pauli Murray was born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore, Md., to Agnes Fitzgerald and William Henry Murray. She was raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal aunt, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, who later legally adopted her. She was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

After graduating from Hunter College (1933), Murray held a variety of jobs; employers included the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. She entered Howard University Law School in the fall of 1941, graduated in 1944, and completed graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In the late 1940s she opened a law office in New York City, where she worked until she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison in 1956.

In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School. A writer, she published a book of poetry, Dark Testament and Other Poems (1970), and four other books: States' Laws on Race and Color (1951), Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family (1956), The Government and Constitution of Ghana (1961), and an autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat, published posthumously in 1987. She also wrote numerous newspaper and journal articles.

In the early 1970s, Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; in 1976 she received a Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York City. She was the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest; her ordination took place in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as Priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md.

From the description of Papers, 1827-1985 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232006752

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series VI, 1941-1983 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008668

African American activist Murray was born in Baltimore, Md., and raised in Durham, N.C., by her maternal grandparents and an aunt. In the 1930s she attended college and worked for the Works Progress Administration and the Workers' Defense League. In the 1940s she attended law school and opened her own law office in New York City. In 1956 she was hired as an associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. In the 1960s Murray was a university professor and administrator in the United States and in Ghana, served on a study committee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School.

In the early 1970s Murray had a calling to the Episcopal priesthood; she was ordained in National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977. Before her retirement in 1984, she served as priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., and at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Md. She was also the author of a book of poetry and four nonfiction books, as well as numerous articles.

Murray was married briefly in the 1930s, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From the description of Papers: Series V, 1939-1985 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122336410

  • 1910 Nov. 21: Born in Baltimore, Md.
  • 1933: Received A.B., Hunter College, New York.
  • 1933 - 1934 : Field representative, National Urban League.
  • 1935 - 1939 : Teacher, Works Project Administration.
  • 1938: Applied unsuccessfully for admission to the University of North Carolina Graduate School.
  • 1943 - 1944 : Student leader of student sit-ins at Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • 1944: Received L.L.B., cum laude, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • 1945: Received L.L.M., University of California at Berkeley.
  • 1946: Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Sacramento, California.
  • 1948: Admitted to New York Bar and admitted to practice in the Supreme Court.
  • 1948 - 1960 : Engaged in private law practice.
  • 1951: Published State Laws on Race and Color.
  • 1956: Published Proud Shoes.
  • 1960 - 1961 : Senior lecturer, Ghana Law School, Acra.
  • 1961: Published Government of Ghana.
  • 1962 - 1963 : Member of the Civil and Political Rights Committee of the President's Committee on the Status of Women.
  • 1962 - 1965 : Member of faculty of Yale Law School.
  • 1965: Received J.S.D. degree from Yale University Law School.
  • 1966 - 1967 : Consultant, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • 1967 - 1968 : Vice President for Educational Plans and Programs and Professor of Political Science, Benedict College, S. C.
  • 1968 - 1968 Present : Professor of Law and Politics, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • 1970: Published Dark Testament and other Poems.

From the guide to the Pauli Murray Papers, 1943-1944, (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University)

Pauli Murray was born Anna Pauline Murray on November 20, 1910, in Baltimore, Md., to the middle-class African American family of nurse Agnes Fitzgerald and high school teacher and principal William Henry Murray. Over the course of her life, PM's experiences and interests would lead her to many places (California, New York City, Massachusetts, Sweden, and Ghana) and through many careers: worker's rights and education, civil rights and women's rights activism, writing, the law, college teaching and administration, and the Episcopal priesthood. PM was married briefly in the 1930's, but her most important and lasting relationships were with women. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985 in the house she owned with a lifelong friend, Maida Springer Kemp, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

When PM was three and a half years old her mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and the little girl was sent to Durham, N.C., to live with her maternal grandparents, Cornelia Smith and Robert G. Fitzgerald, and her aunt, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame (after whom PM had been named), who later legally adopted her. The importance of education was stressed in the Fitzgerald household, and PM grew up loving, and excelling at, academic challenge. Coming of age in the South instilled in her a hatred of racial discrimination, particularly Jim Crow segregation, evils that she combated for much of her life.

After graduating from high school, PM moved to New York City to attend Hunter College. Though struggling financially, she graduated in 1933, and held a variety of jobs in New York, among them teaching in a Remedial Reading Project and a Workers' Education Project for the Works Progress Administration. When the demise of the WPA seemed imminent, and job prospects looked bleak for anyone without an advanced degree, PM decided that she should pursue graduate study. Her growing interest in race relations led to her decision to apply to the Sociology Department at the all-white University of North Carolina. After being refused entry because of her race, PM contacted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for legal counsel, but the organization refused to take her case because of a technicality. Discouraged, PM gave up the idea of school and began once again to look for employment.

When she began her job with the Workers' Defense League in 1939, her knowledge of Jim Crow and other forms of discrimination proved useful. She became involved with the case of Odell Waller, an African American sharecropper who had killed his white landlord in self-defense during a dispute over his crops. Waller had been sentenced to death in the electric chair, after being convicted of murder by an all-white jury. PM was sent out to lecture about the case, to raise funds for an appeal of the conviction, and to establish a local defence committee in each city and town in which she spoke. Despite PM's many lecture and fund-raising tours, some with Waller's foster mother, Annie, the WDL was not able to win an appeal on Waller's behalf; he was put to death on July 2, 1942. PM's unsuccessful efforts to combat the poll tax, combined with her arrest for violating segregation laws in Virginia while working on the Waller case, ignited her interest in civil rights law. She entered Howard University Law School in the fall of 1941.

Academic training by such brilliant and influential African Americans as William H. Hastie, Leon A. Ransom, and Spottswood W. Robinson III served as excellent preparation for PM's students activities with the Howard chapter of the NAACP, especially the student's non-violent, direct action sit-in campaigns to desegregate downtown Washington lunch counters. Upon graduating from Howard, PM attempted to enroll to Harvard Law School for graduate study. Again her efforts were thwarted by discrimination: Harvard did not admit women. This experience awakened PM's feminist consciousness.

After attending school and working briefly in California, PM returned to New York to open her own law office, when she remained untill she was hired as associate attorney in the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison in 1956. She worked there until she accepted a position teaching law in Ghana in 1960, a move that she apparently intended to be permanent.

The situation in Ghana proved disappointing, however. PM found the country's legal system cumbersome and inefficient; in addition, the lack of a legal journal or professional organization severely limited opportunities for academic discussion and growth. Furthermore, the country was in political turmoil, manifested in limits on freedom of speech and movement for foreigners and Ghanaians alike, government surveillance of PM's classes, and a grossly inadequate budget for the law school. As the year wore on, and United States relations with Ghana worsened, President Kwame Nkrumah began to perceive PM's teaching of constitutional law as a threat to his power, and she knew it was only a matter of time before she would be expelled from the country. This situation prodded her to look for opportunities to return to the U.S. as soon as possible. A little over a year after her arrival in Africa, PM arrived in New Haven, Conn., to pursue graduate studies at Yale Law School.

In the mid 1960s, PM served on the Committee on Civil and Political Rights, a study committee of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, earned a J.D.S. from Yale Law School, was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, and served as a vice-president and professor of political science at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. In 1968 she secured a teaching position at Brandeis University (Waltham, Mass.), where she remained until the death of her close friend, Renee Barlow, in 1973.

PM, an Episcopalian, was deeply affected by the fact that, not being a priest, she had not been able to administer the last rites to her devout friend, and felt compelled to devote the remainder of her life to the church. In 1976 she received a Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York City. Her ordination in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 1977, was the first ordination of an African American woman as an Episcopal priest. Before her retirement in 1984, she served first as a priest at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C. and later at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore.

In addition to her varied employment, PM was also a writer. Her poem, "Dark Testament," was first published in 1943, and later included in her collection, Dark Testament and Other Poems (1970). She was the author of four other books: States' Law on Race and Color (1951), Proud Shoes: The story of an American Family (1956), The Constitution and Government of Ghana (1961), and an autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat (published posthumously in 1987), as well as many articles.

From the guide to the Papers, 1827-1985, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

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Subjects:

  • African Americans--History--1964-
  • African American civil rights workers
  • Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
  • African American single people
  • African American college teachers
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  • Constitutional law
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  • African Americans--Segregation
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  • Women civil rights workers
  • Ordination of women
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  • Nonviolence
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  • Feminists
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  • Segregation in higher education
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  • African Americans--History--1863-1877
  • Women--Sexual behavior
  • Women's rights
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  • Women lawyers
  • Lawyers
  • Poll tax
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  • Equal rights amendments
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  • Civil rights
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  • Friendship
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  • Passive resistance
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  • African Americans--Biography
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  • African American families
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  • Sex differences (Psychology)
  • Women college administrators
  • Ghanian students
  • American
  • African Americans--Education (Higher)
  • Sermons, American--Women authors
  • Feminism
  • African American teachers
  • Racism
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  • American literature--20th century
  • Civil rights demonstrations
  • Autobiographies--Women authors
  • African American women--Education
  • African American universities and colleges
  • Sermons, American--African American authors
  • African American student movements
  • Femininity
  • Universities and colleges, Black
  • Women--Societies and clubs
  • Single women
  • Women authors
  • Feminist theology
  • African American poets
  • African Americans--Employment
  • Gender identity

Occupations:

  • Poets
  • Lawyers
  • Clergy
  • African American women civil rights workers--Washington (D.C.)
  • Authors
  • College administrators

Places:

  • Baltimore, MD, US
  • Pittsburg, PA, US