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Janet Huntington Brewster (September 18, 1910 – December 18, 1998) was an American philanthropist, writer, radio broadcaster and relief worker during World War II in London. She was the wife of broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.


Janet Huntington Brewster was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on September 18, 1910, the daughter of Charles Huntington Brewster, a prosperous automobile dealer, and Jennie Johnson, the daughter of Swedish immigrants. Her grandfather, Charles Kingman Brewster, was the county commissioner of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.[1] She was also a direct descendant of Elder William Brewster, (c. 1567 - April 10, 1644), the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower, through his son Jonathan Brewster. She was also a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Howland[2][3] Her first cousin was Kingman Brewster, Jr.[4]


She graduated from Middletown High School in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1929. While attending high school, she was an outstanding student, head of the debating society and editor of the school magazine. She received her B.A. in economics and sociology in 1933 from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. As a student leader at Mount Holyoke, she met Edward R. Murrow,[5][6] a graduate of Washington State College, now Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington, and president of the National Student Federation of America.

After graduating from college, she considered working at the Henry Street Settlement House in New York, where many years later she would serve on the board. She also considered acting as a career. She was a talented actress who played several roles for a summer stock company[7] in New London, New Hampshire, including the lead role in Sidney Howard's, The Late Christopher Bean. She ultimately moved back with her parents and taught freshman English and commercial law at the high school in Middletown, Connecticut.

Marriage and familyEdit

She married Edward Murrow on March 12, 1935, at her parents' home in Middletown, Connecticut. They honeymooned in Mexico and settled in New York City so he could begin his career at CBS.

Janet and Edward were the parents of one child, a son, Charles Casey Murrow, born on November 6, 1945, in west London. He was a 1964 graduate of Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, and a 1968 graduate of Yale University and is currently an educator in Vermont as well as a co-director of Synergy Learning. He married Liza Ketchum in 1968 and they are the parents of two sons.[8]

War yearsEdit

During the Battle of Britain, under the name Janet Murrow, she broadcast for CBS on the British home front.[9] She arranged for the evacuation of children, not to the English countryside, but to homes generously offered in the United States. She served on the British-American Liaison Board, which helped to ease friction between American GIs and British civilians.

She traveled throughout England lecturing for the American Embassy and for the Ministry of Information on American life to schools, civil defense units and other groups. She also gave a course on American history on BBC schools programmes. In 1946, she was awarded the King's Medal for Freedom in recognition of her services to international understanding.

Post-war careerEdit

She was noted for her work in several organizations, including serving as a trustee of Mount Holyoke from 1949 to 1959. She had always hankered after an academic career, and returned to Mount Holyoke College in 1970. She worked for nine years in its Art Museum, eventually becoming the Executive Director of the Art Advisory Committee. She traveled widely, raising over US$2m on behalf of the college. She also served on the boards of National Public Radio and the Henry Street Settlement in Greenwich Village.

In 1953, Janet and Edward reported together on the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and on June 21, 1957, she substituted for her husband, who was in Burma, on Person to Person. Viewers and press reviews lauded her performance, and the program was soon considered one of the best in this popular series.

In the decades following her husband's death, she was tirelessly active in furthering Ed's legacy. She donated some of her husband's papers to the Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and her own papers plus the remaining papers of her husband to Mount Holyoke College.


She died on December 18, 1998, in Needham, Massachusetts. After cremation, her ashes were scattered.[10][11]


  1. ^ Jones, 235–521
  2. ^ Roberts, Gary Boyd (2000). "#55 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Notable Descendants of Henry and Margaret (----) Howland of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, Parents of John Howland of the Mayflower". New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  3. ^ Janet Huntington Brewster, Charles Kingman Brewster, Elisha Huntington Brewster, Elisha, Jonathan, Jonathan, Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan, William, of the Mayflower.
  4. ^ (June 17, 1919 – November 8, 1988). He was an educator, president of Yale University, and the U. S. ambassador to the Court of St. James's from 1977 to 1981. Later, he was appointed master of University College, Oxford, serving from 1986 until his death there in 1988.
  5. ^ Kabaservice, 486
  6. ^ Sperber, 11–12–15–16–17–22–50
  7. ^ New London Barn Playhouse
  8. ^ "C.C. Murrow marries Miss Ketchum" New York Times. June 30, 1968.
  9. ^ Sperber, A. M. (1998). Murrow, His Life and Times. Fordham University Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-8232-1881-3.
  10. ^ Obituary: "Janet H.B. Murrow" New York Times. December 22, 1998.
  11. ^ Janet H.B. Murrow at Find A Grave


External linksEdit