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Joan and Peggy Murray papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00295

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence (1931-46); clippings; writings; memorabilia; photographs; and printed material documenting the lives of mother Peggy Murray, diseuse, and daughter Joan Murray, poet.

Dates of Materials

  • 1880-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1911-1969


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for Joan and Peggy Murray's papers is unknown. Copyright to other materials may be owned by the creators, or their heirs or assigns. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Florence Margaret (Peggy) Toaps Murray was born in Ottawa (date unknown). She toured Canada and England as a "diseuse" ("The Canadian [Yvette] Guilbert"), doing readings in accents, singing, etc. She took up painting at age 52, and at some point moved to Easthampton, Massachusetts. Her date of death is presently unknown. Her daughter, Joan Vincent Murray was born in London on 12 February 1917 during a World War I air raid. She spent her early childhood in England, and later attended schools in London, Paris, Ontario, and Detroit. Rheumatic fever injured her heart, and she was largely self-educated thereafter. She studied acting at several New York City schools and appeared in semi- professional plays. Her poems attracted the attention of W.H. Auden, who wrote the forward to one of her book of poems, published in 1947. She died of an infection in Saranac Lake, NY on 4 January 1942.


7.312 linear feet (12 containers)

Language of Materials



Collection consists of correspondence (1931-46); clippings; writings; memorabilia; photographs; and printed material documenting the lives of mother Peggy Murray, diseuse, and daughter Joan Murray, poet.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. Note that in most cases, container numbers start over at 1 with each new accession.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received by Smith College Archives, 1969-1970 from an unknown source and transferred to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1981. Additional materials donated by Kurt Geryk, 2013.

Processing Information

Starting in September 2022, Smith College Special Collections will be renumbering many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes will be made in this collection: Accession 2013-S-0046, Boxes 1-3 renumbered as Boxes 8-10

Joan and Peggy Murray papers
Finding Aid
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:15-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2021-07-09: Content description added from accession inventory
  • 2021-12-09: Added one folder and fixed nesting issues.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063