The items in this online exhibition evoke the stories of American women through the ages.
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Pauli Murray letter and photo of her ordination, 1977

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute


Pauli Murray (1910–1985) had already spent several decades as a civil rights lawyer and activist (she coined the term “Jane Crow”) before this photograph was taken, in January 1977. The image captures Murray’s joy at her ordination, when she became the first African American woman Episcopal priest. Her letter recounts the prophetic words of Bishop Henry Beard Delaney, an early mentor, who blessed her as a “child of destiny.” 

Pauli Murray Papers 

Catalog record:


Learn more:

Learn about the Pauli Murray collection at the Schlesinger Library.

Read "The Many Lives of Pauli Murray" from the New Yorker.

View "Rediscovering Pauli Murray," a 2017 panel discussion at the Radcliffe Institute:

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