The New Jersey Council for the Humanities mourns the loss of Miriam “Teddy” Murphy, who served nearly 20 years as the organization’s executive director during the first half of its existence.
Taking the reins of the organization just a few years after its founding as an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the early 1970s, Murphy led NJCH through a key period of its history.
“Teddy Murphy established the foundation for what NJCH is today. A woman of style as well as substance, she knew everyone in New Jersey who was doing something interesting,” said Greg Waters, Ph.D., NJCH’s current board chair whose long history of involvement with the organization includes many years of working with Murphy. “Meetings with Teddy always felt like parties, and the conversations were wonderful. She was a joy to work with.”
Murphy’s contributions to the organization and to the humanities in New Jersey were substantial. A lifelong New Jerseyan, the Montclair native graduated from Wellesley College and immediately gravitated toward a career in the humanities. She began her career as an encyclopedia editor and later worked as an administrator at Fairleigh Dickinson University. While working full-time and raising a family, she completed a master’s degree in history from Seton Hall University.
In her last full-time professional role, she joined NJCH in its infancy to help guide its expansion as a programming partner for organizations throughout the Garden State, including libraries, museums, institutions of higher education, and other community-based groups.
Outside of her work with NJCH, Murphy founded the Montville Township Historical Society and Museum and served on numerous nonprofit and civic boards. In recognition of her work on behalf of the state, Murphy was the first non-lawyer member appointed to the NJ Bar Foundation.
She was 97.
Obituary and funeral arrangements can be found here.