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Abbot, Gorham Dummer (03 September 1807–03 August 1874), educator of women and clergyman, was born in Brunswick, Maine, the son of “Squire” Jacob Abbot, a land trustee and sometime merchant, and his wife and second cousin, Betsey Abbot. Gorham Abbot grew up in the nearby town of Hallowell and, like his four brothers, graduated from Bowdoin College (A.B., 1826; A.M., 1829) and studied at Andover Theological Seminary. All of the Abbot brothers became teachers and clergymen, the two eldest, ...

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Ralph Abernathy Photograph by Warren K. Leffler, 1968. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (U.S. News and World Report Collection: LC-U9-19265).

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Abernathy, Ralph David (11 March 1926–17 April 1990), civil rights leader and minister, was born David Abernathy in Linden, Alabama, the son of William L. Abernathy and Louivery Valentine Bell, farmers. A sister’s favorite professor was the inspiration for the nickname “Ralph David,” and although Abernathy never made a legal change, the name remained with him from age twelve....

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June Granatir Alexander

Adamic, Louis (23 March 1899–04 September 1951), writer, was born in Blato, Carniola (modern-day Slovenia), the son of Anton Adamic, a peasant landholder, and Ana Adamic (a distant relative of Anton). Adamic spent four years at a local school and one at a primary school before advancing to a Gymnasium in Ljubljana. After completing two years there, his involvement in a nationalist demonstration led to his expulsion in 1913. Resisting his parents’ wishes that he enter a Jesuit seminary to study for the priesthood, Adamic immigrated to the United States in December 1913. He first worked in the mail room of a Slovene American newspaper in New York and in 1916 became an editorial assistant. After the paper ceased publication later that year, Adamic had several manual labor jobs. In 1917 he enlisted in the army and the following year became a naturalized citizen. Discharged in 1920, he drifted and finally in December 1922 arrived in California, where he worked as a day laborer and then as a reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper. Unhappy with the hectic life of a journalist, he quit in June 1923, found a job as a dock worker, and then became a port pilots’ clerk. The position allowed the aspiring author time to write. Adamic’s early publications were primarily translations of Slavic works, but by the mid-1920s he was producing a wide range of original items for Haldeman-Julius publications (see ...

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Adams, Ansel (20 February 1902–22 April 1984), photographer and environmentalist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Charles Hitchcock Adams, a businessman, and Olive Bray. The grandson of a wealthy timber baron, Adams grew up in a house set amid the sand dunes of the Golden Gate. When Adams was only four, an aftershock of the great earthquake and fire of 1906 threw him to the ground and badly broke his nose, distinctly marking him for life. A year later the family fortune collapsed in the financial panic of 1907, and Adams’s father spent the rest of his life doggedly but fruitlessly attempting to recoup....

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Adams, Brooks (24 June 1848–13 February 1927), historian, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams, a U.S. congressman and ambassador to Great Britain, and Abigail Brown Brooks. Educated in England during the American Civil War, he returned home in 1865, entered Harvard College the following year, and graduated in 1870 in spite of being convicted of plagiarism. After studying at Harvard Law School in 1870 and 1871, Adams joined his father in Geneva, Switzerland, to work on the Alabama Claims Arbitration, settling maritime claims arising from Civil War raiding. After some travel around Europe, he returned to Boston and opened a law practice. His main interest throughout the 1870s was reform politics. In Boston’s Commonwealth Club and in articles for the ...

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Adams, Henry (16 February 1838–27 March 1918), historian, novelist, and critic, was born Henry Brooks Adams in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams, a diplomat, legislator, and writer, and Abigail Brooks. He enjoyed unparalleled advantages, chief among them his famous name and many family connections: he was the great-grandson of President ...

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Adams, James Truslow (18 October 1878–18 May 1949), historian, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Newton Adams, Jr., a disappointed stockbroker, and Elizabeth Harper Truslow. Adams attended the Brooklyn Polytechnic School for both his secondary and his college education, earning a B.A. in 1898. He was president of his class, valedictorian, and class poet. He then began graduate work in philosophy at Yale University but quit, bored, after a few months. Nevertheless, as was common then, he received an M.A. in 1900 for a fee of ten dollars....

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Adams, John Quincy (04 May 1848–03 September 1922), newspaper editor and publisher, civil rights leader, and Republican party activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return to Louisville, where he again engaged in teaching....

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Adie, David Craig (03 September 1888–23 February 1943), social worker, was born in Hamilton, Scotland, the son of Lawrence Adie, a railway passenger agent, and Madeline Cooper. Raised in poverty, Adie attended school in Edinburgh but left at an early age to apprentice as a bookbinder. By the time he was twenty he had joined the Independent Labor Union and had begun working on the Clydeside as an organizer, campaigning from town to town on his bicycle. During these years he developed a rousing style of public speaking through both his union work and his service as a Methodist lay preacher. A voracious reader, Adie learned everything he could about America, and in 1913 he sailed for Canada....

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Adler, Felix (13 August 1851–24 April 1933), religious and social reformer, was born in Alzey, Germany, the son of Henrietta Frankfurter and Samuel Adler, a rabbi. At the age of six he came with the family to the United States when his father accepted an invitation to become rabbi of the Temple Emanuel in New York City. After attending public and private schools, he entered Columbia College, graduating in 1870. Plans for him to succeed his father as rabbi sent Adler to Europe, where he studied theology, philosophy, and linguistics under the tutelage of Abraham Geiger and Heymann Steinthal at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judenthums in Berlin. Alongside that work he also attended courses on philosophy, particularly Kantian ethics, and economics, especially the questions of labor and social reform, at the University of Berlin. In 1873 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg and returned home to take up rabbinical duties. Those plans collapsed within the year because Adler had come to reject both theism and the divine origin of Hebrew Scriptures. After an amicable parting with Temple Emanuel, Adler lectured on Hebrew and Oriental literature at Cornell University from 1874 to 1876. In 1880 he married Helen Goldmark, and the couple had a family of five children....

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Albert, Eddie (22 April 1906–26 May 2005), actor and environmental activist, was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and Julia Jones. At the age of one his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he attended parochial school before graduating from Central High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Minnesota where he majored in business and worked his way up to manager at the local theater. Young Eddie left school without graduating and worked a series of odd jobs before joining a singing trio that appeared on the local radio station. Tired of hearing his name mangled as “hamburger” he changed it to Eddie Albert, and after successfully auditioning at NBC he moved to New York with partner Grace Bradt to star in ...

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Albright, Horace Marden (06 January 1890–28 March 1987), park service director, was born in Bishop, California, the son of George Albright, a mining engineer, and Mary Marden. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1912 with a B.A. in economics. While a law student at Berkeley, Albright worked as a reader for Professor Adolph C. Miller. In 1913, when Secretary of the Interior ...

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A. Bronson Alcott. At age fifty-three. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-54729).

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Alcott, A. Bronson (29 November 1799–04 March 1888), Transcendentalist and reformer, was born Amos Bronson Alcox in Wolcott, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Chatfield Alcox and Anna Bronson, farmers. Farming the rocky Connecticut soil was not lucrative, and Alcott worked hard with his parents to help support seven younger siblings, thereby limiting his opportunities for a formal education. He attended the local district school until age ten, but thereafter his intellectual growth largely depended on his own reading and discussions with friends of a similar scholarly bent, the first being his cousin William Andrus Alcott. William later attended Yale College and established a career as a physician and popular author of health manuals, but continuing poverty prevented Bronson from obtaining a college education. At age fifteen he, like many of his young Connecticut contemporaries, began peddling small manufactured goods, first in Massachusetts and New York, then in Virginia and the Carolinas....

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Raymond Pace Alexander At his desk in his law office, circa 1935-1940. Collections of the University of Pennsylvania Archives.

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Alexander, Raymond Pace (13 October 1898–24 November 1974), lawyer, judge, and civil rights leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third son of Hillard Boone and Virginia Pace Alexander, both slaves in Virginia who were freed in 1865 and migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. His background was working-class poor and he grew up in Philadelphia's seventh ward, an all-black community made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal study ...

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Alexander, Will Winton (15 July 1884–13 January 1956), leading southern liberal, expert on race relations, and member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal administration, leading southern liberal, expert on race relations, and member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal administration, was born near Morrisville, Missouri, the son of William Baxter Alexander, a farmer, and Arabella A. Winton, a schoolteacher. Alexander received a B.A. from Scarritt-Morrisville College in 1908 and continued his studies at Vanderbilt University, where he received a Bachelor of Divinity in 1912. Ordained a Methodist minister in 1911, Alexander held pastorates at Nashville (1911–1916) and Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1916–1917). In 1914 he married Mabelle A. Kinkead; they had three sons....

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Alinsky, Saul David (30 January 1909–12 June 1972), community organizer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Benjamin Alinsky, a tailor, and Sarah Tannenbaum. The family lived in the predominantly Jewish Maxwell Street neighborhood when Alinsky was born, and after the age of six he grew up in the mostly pleasant West Side neighborhood of Douglas Park. His parents divorced when Saul was thirteen years old; he would visit his father in California in the summer but grew increasingly distant from him and close to the strong and contentious Sarah....

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Allen, Edward Tyson (26 December 1875–27 May 1942), forester and conservationist, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Oscar Dana Allen, a professor of analytical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale, and Fidelia Roberts Totman. Educated in the public schools and privately by his father, Allen moved with his family first to California and later to Washington State, where they lived near Mount Rainier. He began work as a reporter for the ...