Ellen Murphy was born February 16, 1916, at the family homestead near Niagara, North Dakota, in Agnes Township, Grand Forks County. She was the second child of Charles J. and Helen Normand Murphy. She began her education at Dominican Convent School in Grafton, North Dakota, in September 1922. Ellen attended various schools and graduated from eighth grade in May 1930 from a one-room schoolhouse in District 102 of Agnes Township. In June 1934, she received her high school diploma from St. James Academy in Grand Forks.
A few months later, Ellen entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a candidate for the Sisterhood, she attended the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul and received her religious vows on March 19, 1937, at St. Joseph's Novitiate, also in St. Paul. Sister Ellen attended several colleges and universities including the University of Notre Dame, the University of North Dakota and DePaul University. Her primary fields of study were elementary education, religion and literature. Sister Ellen contributed to these fields by writing educational articles, poetry, and short stories, many of which have been published. She taught at several schools, including St. Michael's Catholic School in Grand Forks, as well as teaching catechism in Thompson, North Dakota.
She died April 16, 2004, at Bethany Convent, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Sister Ellen Murphy donated additional material on December 29, 1993 (93-1932), in May 1995 (95-2001), in August 1996 (96-2085 and 96-2086), and on November 4, 1997 (98-2215).
Additional material was also donated by Father Robert Mullins, UND, on January 27, 1982 (82-956) and December 20, 1982 (82-1051), as well as by Sister Mary Louise Matt, St. Cloud, Minnesota, on June 23, 2004 (2004-2678).
The Sister Ellen Murphy Papers have been divided into six series:
Series 1: Diaries, 1931-1934 and 1962-1998
Series 2: Publications, 1934-1997
Series 3: Correspondence, 1930-2002
Series 4: Personal Materials
Series 5: Murphy Family Records
Series 6: Photographs