Sargent House Museum

49 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA. Photograph by Steve Rosenthal

The Sargent Murray Gilman Hough House Association was formed to purchase Judith Sargent Murray’s 1782 Georgian house in 1917 and to preserve and make it accessible to the public as a museum. Murray was one of the country’s first feminist writers, a member of Gloucester’s prosperous Sargent shipping family, who wrote her seminal essay, “On the Equality of the Sexes,” as well as many of her letters, poems and plays in the writing closet in her bedroom.

The museum is considered one of the finest examples of Colonial architecture on Cape Ann, with exquisite paneling, paintings and furniture of the period. The museum has an archival collection of 35 linear feet of rare books and family Bibles, 22 boxes of deeds, wills and other family documents, and 7 boxes of photographs. The museum maintains the association’s archival material, including its guest books, publications, minutes, financial records, photographs and records of events. The collections are used in displays within the historic house museum and for a wide range of programs.

Murray moved to Mississippi to be with her daughter after the death of her husband, the Reverend John Murray, founder of Universalism in Gloucester, where the first Universalist church was built. Judith’s letter books were discovered in 1984 by the Reverend Gordon Gibson, a Unitarian Universalist minister, in the attic of a plantation in Natchez and were transferred to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where they remain today.

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