Newporter’s may remember Justice Murray from her twenty-year service as “The Newport Judge” on R.I. Superior Court, or for her two decades of tenure as the first woman Supreme Court Justice in Rhode Island. Most are not aware of the broad range of professional achievements and civic contributions of this Fifth Ward-raised member of the Kerins and Sullivan clans. Among other accomplishments, Florence Kerins Murray taught in a one-room schoolhouse, was one of the first women to attend Boston University Law School, was the youngest lieutenant colonel in the Women’s Army Corp and was a member of the Newport School Committee that built three new schools in the mid-20th century. Despite the scope of her accomplishments, Justice Murray referred to herself as an “Island Girl”, and she chose to live in Newport and give back to the community that shaped and nurtured her. The lecture will include a video interview with Justice Murray filmed in 2001.
MARIAN MATHISON DESROSIERS is an independent scholar and Adjunct Professor of History and Humanities at Salve Regina University, where she earned her Ph.D. She is an executive board member of the National Council for Social Studies and a two-time Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Desrosiers has researched and written on 19th century Irish immigration, women in positions of leadership during wartime and in the judiciary, among other topics. The subject of Dr. Desrosiers’ doctoral dissertation was Justice Florence Kerins Murray, and we welcome her for this, her first speaking engagement with the Museum of Newport Irish History.