Washington, Margaret James Murray, 1865-1925

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Margaret Murray Washington (March 9, 1865 - June 4, 1925) was the principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, which later became Tuskegee University. She was the third wife of Booker T. Washington. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1972.

Margaret Murray was born on March 9 in Macon, Mississippi, in the early 1860s. Her birth year is unknown; her tombstone says she was born in 1865, but the 1870 census lists her birth year as 1861. She was one of ten children born to sharecroppers; an Irish immigrant father and an African-American mother, a washerwoman and possibly former slave. Her father died when she was seven, and the next day she moved to live with a Quaker couple by the name of Sanders. They encouraged her to become a teacher, one of the few occupations available to women at the time.

As a child Murray spent much of her time reading and quickly excelled in school. By the age of fourteen, she was so advanced in her studies that the school offered her a teaching position. Determined to further her teaching career, at the age of nineteen, Murray enrolled in Fisk University, where she completed the college preparatory course in five years and college in four.

It was at Fisk that Murray first met Booker T. Washington. Regarding her as a model student, Washington asked her to take over the position of Lady Principal, formerly held by his deceased second wife. By 1890, Murray was writing to Washington to express her deep feelings for him. He proposed the following year and, after some hesitation, Murray accepted Washington's proposal and they were married in 1893. Murray and Washington shared a home with Washington's relatives and his children from his previous marriage until they moved into The Oaks, the homestead which the Tuskegee Institute built for their family in 1901. Washington was reluctant to share his feelings with Murray, and often left her to tend his children while he was away on business. Though Washington never got over the loss of his first two wives, he believed that Margaret provided a well-ordered household, and the two were generally happy with their marriage. Margaret wrote Washington's speeches and she helped her husband in expanding the school and traveled with him on his tours and speaking engagements.

During her tenure as Lady Principal of Tuskegee, she also created the Tuskegee Woman's Club and merged local organizations with women clubs to help improve the values and liberation of womanhood in African-American women of the Jim Crow south. In 1895 she gave an influential speech titled "Individual Work for Moral Elevation" at the First National Conference of the Colored Women of America. She is credited with co-founding the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. She founded country schools, taught women how to live and attend to their homes, worked for the improvement of prisons, started the Mt. Meigs School for boys and an industrial school for girls at Tuskegee, and constantly worked for the betterment of the poor and neglected. In 1912, she became the fifth president for the National Association of Colored Women.

After the death of her husband in 1915, Washington worked to improve the educational system for African Americans. She became deeply involved in domestic education for mothers in Tuskegee and in supporting schools for children at surrounding plantations.

As with the programs advocated by her husband, Margaret Murray Washington focused on domestic and vocational education. She became involved in interracial cooperation and participated in the path-breaking Memphis Women's Inter-Racial Conference in 1920. Margaret Murray Washington remained at The Oaks until her death in 1925. She is buried in the university cemetery, next to her husband.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Stokes, Caroline Phelps, 1854-1909. Papers of Caroline and Olivia Phelps Stokes, 1866-1927 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006. National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Records of the First Lady's Office (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Laura Schiller's Files, 1993 - 2001 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn Records of the First Lady's Office (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Christine Macy's Files, 1998 - 1999 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn Brady, St. Elmo, 1884-1966. St. Elmo Brady collection on Booker T. and Maggie Washington, 1901-1922. John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library. Special Collections & Archives
referencedIn Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, 1900-1961 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. Booker T. Washington letters, 1902-1913. Cheyney University, L. P. Hill Library
referencedIn Neighborhood Union (Atlanta, Ga.). Neighborhood Union (Atlanta, Ga.) correspondence, 1911-1936. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
referencedIn Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1889-1913 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Xavier University of Louisiana. Xavier University Archives photographs collection, 1909-197- (bulk 1909-1919). Xavier University of Louisiana, XULA
referencedIn Meek, Fannie Lowe. Papers. 1915-1922, 1939-1956, 1966. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn Austin W. Curtis Papers, 1896-1971 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Charles William Carpenter Papers, 1909-1970 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf Carpenter, Charles William, 1886-1971. Charles W. Carpenter papers, 1909-1970. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Carpenter, Charles William, 1886-1971. Charles W. Carpenter papers, 1909-1966. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, 1900-1961 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. Mary Church Terrell papers, 1851-1962 (bulk 1886-1954). Library of Congress
creatorOf Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1889-1913. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Mary Church Terrell Papers, 1851-1962, (bulk 1886-1954) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Norton family. Letters received by the Norton family, 1830-1920 Houghton Library
referencedIn Neighborhood Union (Atlanta, Ga.). Lugenia Burns Hope files, 1908-1933. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
creatorOf Johnston, Lucy Browne, 1846-1937. Lucy B. Johnston papers, 1887-1937. Kansas State Historical Society
creatorOf Curtis, Austin W., 1911-. Austin W. Curtis papers, 1896-1971. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Lifting as They Climb.
referencedIn Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction.
Relation Name
memberOf Alabama. Women's Hall of Fame. corporateBody
correspondedWith Brady, St. Elmo, 1884-1966. person
associatedWith Brown, Charlotte Hawkins, 1883-1961. person
associatedWith Carpenter, Charles William, 1886-1971. person
associatedWith Carpenter, Charles William, 1886-1971. person
associatedWith CHARLOTTE EUGENIA (HAWKINS) BROWN, 1883-1961 person
associatedWith Curtis, Austin W., 1911- person
associatedWith Curtis, Austin W., 1911- person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Fisk University corporateBody
associatedWith Johnston, Lucy Browne, 1846-1937. person
associatedWith Meek, Fannie Lowe. person
founderOf National Association of Colored Women (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Neighborhood Union (Atlanta, Ga.) corporateBody
associatedWith Neighborhood Union (Atlanta, Ga.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Norton family, recipient. family
associatedWith Stokes, Caroline Phelps, 1854-1909. person
correspondedWith Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. person
employeeOf Tuskegee Institute corporateBody
spouseOf Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Tuskegee AL US
Nashville TN US
Macon MS US
Subject
Occupation
Deans (Education)
Educators
Principals
Activity

Person

Birth 1865-03-09

Death 1925-06-04

Female

Americans

English

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