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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Akeley, Mary Leonore Jobe (29 January 1878–19 July 1966), explorer, author, and educator, was born near Tappan, Ohio, the daughter of Richard Watson Jobe and Sarah Jane Pittis, farmers. (The year of her birth is sometimes erroneously given as 1886.) She received a Ph.B. at Scio College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1897. (Scio, a Methodist school, merged with Mount Union College in Alliance in 1911.) She took graduate courses at Bryn Mawr (1901–1903) and taught at Temple College (now Temple University). She was head of the Department of History and Civics at the New York State Normal School and Training School in Cortland, New York (1903–1906), studied history and English at Columbia University, and in 1907 began to teach American history at the Normal College of the City of New York (now Hunter College). She received her M.A. in history at Columbia in 1909....

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Alden, Priscilla Mullins (1602–1684), one of the first settlers of Plymouth Colony, was born the daughter of William Mullins, a shoemaker, and Mary (maiden name unknown). She was probably born in Dorking, Surrey, England, though there is no record of her birth. Her father’s life is not well documented, but he may be the William Mollines who was brought before the Privy Council in April 1616. If so, his Puritan faith might have been the reason that he and his family joined the Separatists on their ...

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James H. O’Donnell III

Ann (fl. 1706–1718), queen of Pamunkey, may have ruled as late as 1723. The Pamunkey people of Virginia were part of the larger grouping that had once been known as Powhatan’s confederacy. In the century after the arrival of the Europeans not only had the larger tribal polity declined but also the population had diminished and the land base had dwindled. The collapse of the confederacy had presented leadership challenges to the several tribes. One crisis that emerged was the death of tribal leaders in intertribal wars, struggles largely precipitated by their support of the English colonial governments. The best-known example of this, the death of Totopotomoy in 1656 in battle with the Rickohokans, brought his widow Cockacoeske to the position of queen of the Pamunkeys, a role she played for almost thirty years. Following in this tradition were two more Pamunkey queens, Betty and Ann, whose leadership was exercised early in the eighteenth century. By that time, moreover, their ascendance to leadership may also have been a function of declining population that left women of prominent families as the only choice to lead the tribe....

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Aquash, Annie Mae (27 March 1945– December 1975), First Nations (Mi'kmaq) activist and American Indian Movement leader, First Nations (Mi’kmaq) activist and American Indian Movement leader, was born Annie Mae Pictou in the Shubenacadie band (now Indian Brook First Nation) reserve in central Nova Scotia, Canada, the youngest daughter of Mary Ellen Pictou and Francis Thomas Levi. (Most contemporary sources refer to her as Anna, but family members confirmed that Annie is the accurate form of her given name.) Her father left the family shortly before her birth, and Annie Mae spent the first four years of her life in the Shubenacadie reserve. Her mother remarried and brought her three daughters to live in the small Pictou Landing reserve near New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, where she also gave birth to a fourth child....

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Babb, Bianca (26 August 1856–13 April 1950), pioneer and captive of Native Americans, was born in a covered wagon near Lecompton, Kansas, en route from Wisconsin to Texas, the daughter of John S. Babb and Isabel A. Babb (maiden name unknown), who were settlers and ranchers....

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Baldwin, Evelyn Briggs (22 July 1862–25 October 1933), arctic explorer, was born in Springfield, Missouri, the son of Elias Briggs Baldwin, an army captain, and Julia Cornelia Crampton. His father served in the Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry Volunteers in the Civil War and later became a farmer. His mother died when he was four years old. Raised on his father’s Kansas farm, Baldwin attended high school in nearby Oswego and received a B.S. from North-Western (later North-Central) College in Naperville, Illinois, in 1885. After graduation Baldwin spent a year in Europe, supporting his pedestrian and bicycle travels by writing a subscription newspaper, ...

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Bishop, Bernice Pauahi (19 December 1831–16 October 1884), native Hawaiian high chiefess and philanthropist, was born Pauahi in Honolulu, the daughter of Abner Paki and Konia (maiden name unknown), both of chiefly rank. She was the great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, who united the islands under his rule in 1810. Her father was an adviser to ...

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Dorothy McLeod MacInerney

Blake, Mary Elizabeth (01 September 1840–26 February 1907), author, was born Mary Elizabeth McGrath in Dungarven, Ireland, the daughter of Patrick McGrath, an artisan in marble, and Mary Murphy. Mary’s family immigrated to Quincy, Massachusetts, when she was ten. Her father’s trade prospered, enabling him to provide his children with good educations. Mary attended Quincy High School from 1855 to 1859, Emerson’s Private School in Boston from 1859 to 1861, and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville from 1861 to 1863. Her major interests in school were music and modern languages. Upon graduating, Mary began teaching and writing poems, which were published in local newspapers. In 1865 she married John G. Blake, a prominent Boston physician; they had eleven children....

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Boyd, Louise Arner (16 September 1887–14 September 1972), Arctic explorer, photographer, and author, was born in San Rafael, California, the daughter of John Franklin Boyd, Sr., and Louise Cook Arner. Boyd was born to one of the wealthiest families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Her maternal grandfather, Ira Cook, had built a fortune in the mid-nineteenth century, and her father ran the family gold-mining business and an investment company. Boyd was educated privately, first by governesses, then at Miss Stewart’s School in San Rafael and Miss Murrison’s in San Francisco. She did not attend college or university and made her social debut in 1907. Throughout the next decade, during which her father trained her to become the financial manager of the family business, Boyd stayed busy with family concerns and community interests, helping care for her invalid brothers and emerging as a leading patron of music, art, and charitable causes in San Rafael and San Francisco. She also became expert at growing prize camellias....

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Brant, Molly (1736–16 April 1796), Mohawk, Loyalist, and Anglican, also known as Mary Brant or Konwatsi tsiaienni, was born either at the Mohawk “castle” of Canajoharie in upper New York or in the Ohio Valley, the daughter of Peter and Margaret, both Mohawks of the Six Nations Confederacy of Iroquois. She was the sister of ...

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Bremer, Fredrika (17 August 1801–31 December 1865), novelist, travel writer, and poet, was born near Abo, Finland, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and his wife. The family moved to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1804 as Russia prepared to annex Finland, then a year later to a country estate near Arsta, Sweden. Bremer’s early life was unhappy; she was isolated and held under her parents’ strict control, her days consumed by a demanding academic regimen of history, philosophy, literature, music, art, and languages. She escaped the pressure by consuming romance novels by the British author Fanny Burney. Her health deteriorated, and in 1821 the family took her to the south of France to convalesce....

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Brent, Margaret (1601–1670?), landowner and colonial leader, was born in England, the daughter of Richard Brent, lord of Admington and Lark Stoke in the county of Gloucester, England, and Elizabeth Reed.

When Margaret Brent was about thirty-seven years old, she traveled to the New World with her sister Mary, brothers Giles and Fulke, and their servants. They landed at St. Mary’s (later St. Marys) Maryland, in November 1638. Although the two sisters traveled with their brothers, they did not depend on them for their economic survival. They arrived with servants as well as the means to procure large land grants from the proprietor, Lord Baltimore (...

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Calamity Jane Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95040).

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Calamity Jane (01 May 1852–01 August 1903), legendary western woman, was born Martha Cannary in Princeton, Missouri, the daughter of Robert Cannary (also spelled Canary). Her mother’s identity is unknown. In 1865, enticed by news from the Montana gold fields, her father moved the family to Virginia City, Montana. After her mother died in 1866, the family settled in Salt Lake City. Following her father’s death in 1867, an adolescent but determined Calamity Jane traveled to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. From there she embarked upon the transient existence that would characterize her life in the West, especially in the Black Hills mining camps of South Dakota and Wyoming....

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Dare, Virginia (18 August 1587–?), the first child of English parents in the New World, was born on Roanoke Island in the colony of Virginia, now North Carolina, the daughter of Ananias Dare and Elenor (also spelled Ellinor, Eleanor, and Elyoner) White, Roanoke colony settlers. The facts of Virginia Dare’s life are scant. Her mother left Plymouth, England, while pregnant with Virginia, on 8 May 1587 as one of the settlers in Sir Walter Raleigh’s third attempt to establish an English colony in the New World. Virginia’s maternal grandfather, the artist ...

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Davis, Alice Brown (10 September 1852–21 June 1935), Seminole leader and merchant, was born in Park Hill, Cherokee Nation (now in Cherokee County, Okla.), the daughter of John F. Brown, a physician, and Lucy Redbeard, a Seminole of the Panther clan (Kachaki). Her parents met while her father was employed as a contract physician for the federal government during the removal of most of the Seminoles from Florida to the Indian Territory in the 1840s. One of seven children, Alice was educated at home and also attended schools in the Cherokee Nation and the Presbyterian mission school near Wewoka....

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Dorion, Marie (1790–05 September 1850), interpreter, was born into the Iowa tribe as Marie Aioe, or Marie L’Aguivoise; both versions of her maiden surname, variations on the word “Iowa,” appear in early nineteenth-century records of Oregon and Washington territories. Nothing is known of her life until she became the common-law wife of a half Sioux, half French-Canadian fur trader, Pierre Dorion, Jr., around 1806 in the vicinity of what is now Yankton, South Dakota. Pierre Dorion, Sr., had been an interpreter and a guide with the ...

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Dorr, Julia Caroline Ripley (13 February 1825–18 January 1913), author, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of William Young Ripley, a merchant, and Zulma DeLacy Thomas. Dorr’s mother and her family, natives of France, had come to Charleston from the West Indies after a slave revolt dispossessed them in the late 1700s. Julia, an only child, moved with her family to Vermont because of her mother’s ill health; the change of region failed to help, however, as Zulma Ripley died on the day following her arrival. Julia was reared in Vermont and, for a time, in New York City. Her education has been characterized as “irregular” and “haphazard,” but she apparently had some talent in Latin and attended classes at the Middlebury seminary in Vermont. At the age of twenty-two, she married Seneca M. Dorr, a young businessman who apparently shared Julia’s interests in literature and elite culture, and they made their home in Ghent, New York, for a decade before moving to Rutland, Vermont, to join Julia’s father (who had established successful careers as the owner of marble quarries and as a bank president)....