Katherine Murphy was a young woman who was born in 1887. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked with a local branch of the Women’s Aid and Relief Society in Boston. Her husband at the time – Henry Murphy – became involved in a political campaign for president following his wife’s death in 1895. He was elected. His first act in office was to send his secretary, Mrs. Mary E. McKean, to the White House in order to deliver a proclamation declaring he was the first president of the United States who had been married three times.
Murphy died in 1902 and was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery. Her remains were eventually moved to an unmarked grave, but her funeral was widely attended, and at one point the city of Providence honored her with a plaque.
Henry Murphy married Katharine in 1901 and the couple had four children: Henry Henry, Edith Mary, Edward Elizabeth and Ethel Alice. Murphy was a prominent figure in Providence politics: she served on the City Council, was a member of the board of trustees, was a member of the Board of Trustees and was vice president of Providence College – a historically women’s college – all the while living in the same house and school with her parents.
In 1902, Murphy was involved in a political campaign for election to the White House. In doing so, she campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Hiram Johnson of Illinois, a Democrat. Hiram was defeated with the help of the American Federation of Labor, a labor organization that was a very prominent one in the region during the early 1900s. After the election, she wrote a letter to the editor of the Providence Evening News. While her campaign was unsuccessful, the story had a great effect on her life’s work. That year, she was featured on a postage stamp and she traveled across the country to public meetings to make a public presentation of her ideas for the future of education and equality in education.
During the summer of 1903, the state of Rhode Island passed the Public Education Act, which provided state financing for both private and public schools. With the legislation, public schools became eligible for federal payments and were the first in the nation to become eligible for federal aid.
In July of that year, Murphy was awarded a prize for her public education advocacy work, and her name was added to the list of recipients of the Rhode Island Education Hall of Fame.
After graduating at 18, Murphy decided to take a job at the Women’s Aid and Relief Society
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