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Balch, Emily Greene (08 January 1867–09 January 1961), peace activist, sociologist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the daughter of Francis Vergnies Balch, a lawyer, and Ellen Maria Noyes. She was in the first graduating class at Bryn Mawr College, earning her degree in 1889. After studying privately for a year with sociologist ...

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Du Bois, W. E. B. (23 February 1868–27 August 1963), African-American activist, historian, and sociologist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois, a barber and itinerant laborer. In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins, weaving them rhetorically and conceptually—if not always accurately—into almost everything he wrote. Born in Haiti and descended from Bahamian mulatto slaves, Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward. He also deserted the family less than two years after his son’s birth, leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin. Long resident in New England, the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had fought briefly in the American Revolution. Under the care of his mother and her relatives, young Will Du Bois spent his entire childhood in that small western Massachusetts town, where probably fewer than two-score of the 4,000 inhabitants were African American. He received a classical, college preparatory education in Great Barrington’s racially integrated high school, from whence, in June 1884, he became the first African-American graduate. A precocious youth, Du Bois not only excelled in his high school studies but contributed numerous articles to two regional newspapers, the Springfield ...

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Johnson, Charles Spurgeon (24 July 1893–27 October 1956), sociologist and educator, was born in Bristol, Virginia, the son of Reverend Charles Henry Johnson, a minister in the black Baptist church, and Winifred Branch. Bristol, a small city in the state’s far southwest corner, had the usual pattern of racial segregation, and it is where Charles received his primary education. He was then sent to Richmond to a private Baptist academy linked to Virginia Union University, a leading black institution, where he completed his undergraduate degree with honors in 1916. Working part time in the Richmond ghetto, he was shocked by the racial discrimination and economic deprivation marking southern Negro life. That led him to decide on graduate work in sociology, to concentrate on race relations, and to focus in particular on conditions in the urban-industrial North in the setting of the Great Migration, the northward movement of thousands of southern blacks....