Judith Sargent Murray by John Singleton Copley / Oil on canvas, c. 1769–72 / Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois; Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund

Judith Sargent Murray by John Singleton Copley / Oil on canvas, c. 1769–72 / Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois; Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund

A Will of Their Own: Judith Murray and Women of Achievement in the Early Republic

April 20, 2012 - September 2, 2013

At the time of the American Revolution with Great Britain, women did not share the same status or rights as men. They could not vote or hold political office, enjoyed few property rights, were not equal in marriage, and had limited access to educational opportunities. As the debate about liberty and the rights of men took center stage during the Revolution, some women began to question their position in American society.  The eight women who are highlighted here did not produce a collective movement for women’s rights, but they were important in sowing the seeds for future progress.

This exhibition was organized by the National Portrait Gallery in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art.