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Bryan, John Stewart (23 October 1871–16 October 1944), newspaper publisher and college president, was born at Brook Hill, Henrico County, Virginia, the son of Joseph Bryan, a newspaper publisher, and Isobel Lamont Stewart. Bryan grew up at “Brook Hill” and “Laburnum,” his family’s ancestral estates near Richmond, Virginia. Among his ancestors were Virginia’s first families, including the Byrds and the Blands, as well as many leaders of the Confederacy; General ...

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Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (02 February 1861–14 March 1949), teacher, author, and civic leader, was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Michael (also spelled Micheil) Cotter, a boarding house owner, and Martha Vaughn. Although his father was known as an avid reader, Cotter was raised largely by his mother, a freeborn woman of mixed English, Cherokee, and African blood. It was from her naturally dramatic manner—she orally composed poems and plays as she worked at chores—that he acquired his love of language and stories. Having taught herself, she also taught Cotter to read and enrolled him in school, but at age eight economic necessity forced him to drop out and begin working at various jobs: in a brickyard, then a distillery, and finally as a ragpicker and a teamster. Until age twenty-two, manual labor consumed much of Cotter’s life....

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Fine, Benjamin (01 September 1905–16 May 1975), educational author, editor, and lecturer and school administrator, was born in New York City but was raised on a farm in Attleboro, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Fine and Rebecca Goldin, farmers. From his early youth Fine was rigorously active and would remain so for the rest of his life. He walked miles to get the school bus (good for later story enhancement), milked the cows, and did the farm chores, thus confirming philosopher ...

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Ford, Guy Stanton (09 May 1873–29 December 1962), historian, editor, and academic administrator, was born in Liberty Corners, Salem Township, Wisconsin, the son of Thomas D. Ford, a medical doctor, and Helen E. Shumway, a teacher. During Guy’s early childhood, his father’s drinking and business failures forced his mother, with her two sons, to move in with a series of relatives, eventually leading them to Sutherland, Iowa, in 1883. Shortly thereafter his father moved to Plainfield, Iowa, a town of about 300 people. In 1884 the family reunited in Plainfield. Thomas Ford was an extremely impractical man and the family lived in relative poverty throughout Guy’s years in Plainfield....

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Giamatti, Bart (04 April 1938–01 September 1989), scholar, college president, and baseball executive, was born Angelo Bartlett Giamatti in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Valentine Giamatti, a professor of Romance languages at Mount Holyoke College, and Mary Claybaugh Walton. Raised in South Hadley, Giamatti acquired a love for both books and baseball from his father. Much better at academics than athletics, he graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Yale University, where he received a B.A. in English magna cum laude in 1960 and, as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature in 1964. In 1960 he had married Toni Smith, with whom he had three children....

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Hart, James D. (18 April 1911–23 July 1990), author, editor and college and library administrator, was born James David Hart in San Francisco, California, the son of Julien Hart, the owner of a silk company, and Helen Neustadter. He grew up in San Francisco, where his mother died when he was ten. He received his degrees in English: an A.B. from Stanford University in 1932, and an M.A. (1933) and Ph.D. (1936) from Harvard University. Before moving back to his native state, Hart taught at Amherst College in Massachusetts for one semester. He then became an instructor of English at the University of California at Berkeley from 1936 to 1941; he later became assistant professor (1941–1947), associate professor (1947–1951), and finally professor, a position he held for thirty-nine years. Hart served as department chairman twice, from 1955 to 1957 and 1965 to 1969 and as vice chancellor of the university from 1957 to 1960....

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Hill, Daniel Harvey (12 July 1821–24 September 1889), soldier, educator, and editor, was born at Hill’s Iron Works, York District, South Carolina, the son of Solomon Hill, a farmer, and Nancy Cabeen. Signally influenced by the military and religious traditions of his forebears, Hill was descended from Scotch-Irish and Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in the Carolina upcountry before the American Revolution. Both grandfathers had fought with distinction under General ...

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Hamilton Holt. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104431).

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Holt, Hamilton Bowen (19 August 1872–26 April 1951), editor, reformer, and college president, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Chandler Holt, an attorney and judge, and Mary Louisa Bowen. Holt grew up in Spuyten Duyvil, New York, attending several private schools and graduating from Columbia Grammar School in 1890. After receiving his A.B. from Yale in 1894, he studied sociology and economics for three years at Columbia University. In 1899 he married Alexina Crawford Smith; they had four children. In his prime Holt was a large, broad-shouldered man who possessed a warm personality and great energy....

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King, Charles (16 March 1789–27 September 1867), editor, merchant, and college president, was born in New York, New York, the son of Rufus King, a diplomat, and Mary Alsop. His father, having succeeded Thomas Pinckney as minister plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James, moved with his family to London, England, in 1796. After a few years at a local school, Charles and his older brother John Alsop King were sent in December 1799 to Harrow, a private secondary school in Middlesex, where they had Lord Byron and Robert Peel as classmates. Leaving Harrow in December 1804, King and his brother then attended a branch of the École Polytechnique in Paris, France, for a few months, after which Charles King took a clerking position with Hope & Company, a banking firm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands....

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Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin (27 September 1790–09 July 1870), author and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of William Longstreet, an inventor and land speculator, and Hannah Randolph. In 1808 he began attending Dr. Moses Waddell’s celebrated school in Willington, South Carolina, where he boarded with the family of ...

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Minor, Benjamin Blake (21 October 1818–01 August 1905), editor, educator, and lawyer, was born in Tappahannock, Essex County, Virginia, the son of Dr. Hubbard Taylor Minor, a physician, and Jane Blake. Both parents were from prominent Virginia planting families. In 1835 Minor enrolled at the University of Virginia, an institution he much preferred to Bristol College, a small mechanical school near Philadelphia where he had earlier studied. For the next three school terms Minor pursued his studies there, eventually receiving several diplomas in various schools. In 1836 Charles Bonnycastle, one of Minor’s professors, offered him a principalship at a Baton Rouge academy. Although Minor did not accept the offer, he was persuaded to lodge with Professor Bonnycastle and tutor his children....

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Rivera, Tomás (22 December 1935–16 May 1984), novelist, poet, and university administrator, was born in Crystal City, Texas, the son of Florencio Rivera Martínez and Josefa Hernández Gutiérrez, migrant farmworkers. From his early years until 1954, Rivera traveled with his family, joining the migrant stream that left Crystal City around mid-April, searching for farm work as far north as Michigan and Minnesota and returning around the beginning of November. Years later, in much of his writings, and especially in his novel ...

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Emmett Jay Scott. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

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Scott, Emmett Jay (13 February 1873–12 December 1957), educator and publicist, was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Horace Lacy Scott, a civil servant, and Emma Kyle. Scott attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, for three years but left college in 1890 for a career in journalism. Starting as a janitor and messenger for a white daily newspaper, the ...

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Gilbert Seldes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1019 P&P).

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Seldes, Gilbert Vivian (03 January 1893–29 September 1970), critic and writer, was born in Alliance, New Jersey, the son of George Sergei Seldes, a pharmacist, and Anna Saphro, who died when Gilbert was three. His only sibling, George Seldes, became a distinguished journalist known for his coverage of European affairs between the world wars. Their father, a freethinker of Russian Jewish descent, sought to convert his farm into an anarchist utopian colony. When that did not succeed, he entered the drugstore business. He enjoyed friendships with ...

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Spencer, Matthew Lyle (07 July 1881–10 February 1969), journalist and university president, was born in Batesville, Mississippi, the son of Flournoy Poindexter Spencer, a Methodist Episcopal minister, and Alice Eleanor Manes. During his youth the family moved around Mississippi, because of his father’s duties as a circuit preacher. In 1893 the Spencers left the state for Georgia. For the next three years Spencer lived with his parents until family conflicts forced him to leave home....