Emily Murphy (born Emily Gowan Ferguson; 14 March 1868 – 27 October 1933) was a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first female magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire. She is best known ...
- Magistrate, activist, jurist, author
- Women's rights activist
- Emily Gowan Ferguson, 14 March 1868, Cookstown, Ontario, Canada
- Early life and family
- Other activities
- Early career
Emily Murphy was born into a prominent Ontario family, with relatives in business, politics and the law, including two Supreme Court judges. In 1830, her maternal grandfather, politician and newspaper owner Ogle R. Gowan, founded the first Orange Order lodge in Canada. She therefore grew up in a family that frequently discussed legal and political matters. Murphy attended the prestigious Bishop Strachan School, a private Anglican girls school in Toronto, Ontario. While in Toronto, she met Arthur Murphy, a theology student whom she later married. Murphy moved west in 1903 to Swan River, Manitoba, with her husband, now an Anglican minister and entrepreneur, and their two daughters. In 1907, the family moved to Edmonton, Alberta.
A prolific contributor of book reviews and articles to Canadian magazines and newspapers, Emily Murphy adopted the pen name Janey Canuck and published four very popular books of personal sketches: The Impressions of Janey Canuck Abroad (1901), Janey Canuck in the West (1910), Open Trails (1912) and Seeds of Pine (1914).
Murphy was also prominent in the suffrage movement, as well as a long-time executive member of the Canadian Women's Press Club(president 191320), the National Council of Women of Canada, the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada (first national president) and over 20 other professional and volunteer organizations.
Emily Murphy's career took an unexpected turn in 1916. In March of that year, members of the Edmonton Local Council of Women tried to attend the trial of several women who had been arrested as prostitutes. The women were ejected from the court on the grounds that the testimony was \\"not fit for mixed company.\\" Murphy was outraged, and protested to the provincial Attorney General.
\\"If the evidence is not fit to be heard in mixed company,\\" she argued, \\"then ... the government [must] set up a special court presided over by women, to try other women.\\" To her surprise the Minister agreed, and offered Murphy the post of presiding over such a court.
Murphy accepted the offer and in 1916 was appointed police magistrate for Edmonton and then Alberta, the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. Exposed to a succession of cases involving prostitution and juvenile offenders, she became an implacable enemy of narcotics, which she blamed for much organized crime and for victimizing the defenceless.
The Black Candle (1922) by \\"Judge Murphy\\" was an expansion of articles published in Maclean's magazine describing in lurid detail the evils of the drug trade; her exposé led to laws governing narcotics that remained unaltered until the late 1960s.
In the book, Murphy discusses the involvement of Chinese, Assyrians, Greeks and Negroes in the drug trade. At the time, there was considerable concern about immigration (particularly Chinese immigration) in western Canada. Murphys comments likely reflected and contributed to these concerns. Yet she also condemned Anglo-Saxons for their role in the drug trade. In The Black Candle (pp. 15051), she states the following:
Elsewhere in the book (pp. 10809), Murphy remarks that, on this continent there are thousands of Chinese of honesty and sturdiness of character. Moreover, she argues that if even a quarter of the amount of money expended on the detection of crime among the Chinese was applied to educating them, the results would be indubitably better.
Scholars continue to debate Murphys beliefs about race and immigration; some condemn her for racist and imperial views while others argue that her main concern was the drug trade itself and that any discussion of her beliefs should also consider the systemic (or widespread) racism of the time.
Emily Murphy is best known as a suffragist, particularly for her role in the famous Persons Case. On her first day as a magistrate, she was challenged by a lawyer who asserted that as a woman she was not a person in the eyes of British law. This led Murphy to embark on a decade-long campaign to have women declared legal \\"persons\\" and therefore eligible for appointive positions, including that of senator. With the support of four other Alberta women, Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby, she carried the Persons Case to the Privy Council in Britain, which ruled in a celebrated judgement in 1929 that women were indeed persons under the British North America Act. The long-sought Senate appointment eluded Murphy, however, and she died in Edmonton of diabetes in 1933. (See also Emily Murphys Famous Triumph.)
Like other members of the Famous Five, Murphy has been criticized as being elitist and racist. In addition to her concerns about immigration, she also supported eugenics, the idea that the human population could be improved by controlling reproduction. Many influential Canadians, including J. S. Woodsworth and Dr. Clarence Hincks, supported eugenic ideas in the early 1900s and promoted both positive eugenics (promoting the breeding of fit members of society) and negative eugenics (discouraging procreation by those considered unfit). Eugenicists argued that mental defectives and the feeble-minded were prone to alcoholism, promiscuity, mental illness, delinquency and criminal behaviour, and thus threatened the moral fabric of the community. These concerns led to increasing support for eugenic legislation, including the sterilization of defectives.
Like several other early feminists, including Nellie McClung, Murphy publicly supported negative eugenics. According to sociologist Jana Grekul, Murphy warned that the unfit were becoming vastly more populous than those we designate as the upper crust. This is why it is altogether likely that the upper crust with its delicious plums and dash of cream is likely to become at any time a mere toothsome morsel for the hungry, the abnormal, the criminals and the posterity of insane paupers. As a judge, Murphy had considerable influence in Alberta, and her public support of eugenic policies likely contributed to the passage of Albertas Sexual Sterilization Act in 1928. The Act, whichorganized the involuntary sterilization of people considered mentally deficient, was not repealed until 1972. During that time, thousands of people who were considered psychotic or mentally defective underwent eugenic sterilization.
Emily Webster Murphy (born 1973) is an American attorney and government official who served as the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) from 2017 to 2021.   Before serving in the GSA, Murphy was an attorney for the ...
6/6/2019 · Emily Murphy (March 14, 1868–Oct. 27, 1933) was a strong advocate for Canadian women and children who led four other women, collectively called the "Famous Five," in the Persons Case, which established the status of women as persons ...
17/11/2020 · This week, both the administrator of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, and Donald Trump's personal lawyer (and the former New York City mayor) Rudy Giuliani have made themselves ...
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Emily Ferguson Murphy (1868-1933) first became famous as a writer with the pen name of "Janey Canuck." She quickly emerged as a leader in the fight for social reform, women's rights, and in the "votes for women" movement. ...
9/11/2020 · — Emily Murphy (@GSAEmily) October 13, 2020 According to her LinkedIn, Murphy is an alum of Smith College, where she received her undergraduate degree, and the University of Virginia Law School.
9/11/2020 · Emily W. Murphy, the Trump-appointed administrator of the General Services Administration, has not yet declared Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election, a decision that would ...
Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, is receiving criticism for refusing to authorize the White House transition.Subscribe to HuffP...
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The Famous Five secure the rights of women as persons throughout the Commonwealth (1929).For more information about Emily Murphy, visit: http://www.thecanadi...
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- Historica Canada