Janet Brewster Murrow

Janet Brewster Murrow

With powerful content and one of the most recognizable voices in all of broadcast media, Edward R. Murrow was one of the America's most influential figures during World War II and beyond. What many don't know is that the writer behind many of Murrow's reports was not Edward, but another Murrow—his wife, Janet.

As president of the Mount Holyoke student body, Janet attended a National Student Federation of America conference, where she met her future husband, Edward Murrow, then NSFA president.

In 1937, the Murrows moved to London, where they stayed for the next nine years. While Edward became a household name in the States thanks to his broadcasts, Janet was busy with her own work. She led the London office of Bundles for Britain, an organization through which American women sent to the UK everything from clothing to mobile feeding units and financial contributions. After Janet became executive chairman of the London committee, she returned to the U.S. and gave lectures to raise awareness about the organization.

Janet was also a talented writer, drafting scripts for her husband during a time when many female journalists were asked to write exclusively about “women's issues” such as rationing, cosmetics, or separation from loved ones. It was Janet who wrote all of Edward’s scripts depicting conditions in bomb shelters, as he refused to go inside one. In 1946, Janet was awarded the British King's Medal for Services in the Cause of Freedom for her "contribution to Anglo-American understanding" during the war.

In 1949, Janet was elected to the board of trustees at Mount Holyoke, a position she maintained until 1970. After her husband's death, she worked at the Mount Holyoke Art Museum. She was also on the boards of the Henry Street Settlement and National Public Radio.

Janet Brewster Murrow was a philanthropist and a business woman, but she is most remembered as the writer of words that portrayed the war, spoken by Edward R. Murrow.

Class Year: 
1933

Mount Holyoke College

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