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Allen, Philip (01 September 1785–16 December 1865), manufacturer, governor, and senator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Zachariah Allen, a West Indies trader, and Nancy Crawford. Allen received his early education from tutors before attending Taunton Academy in Providence, Robert Rogers School in Newport, and Jeremiah Chaplin’s Latin School in Providence. In 1799 he entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1803....

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Allen, Zachariah (15 September 1795–17 March 1882), textile manufacturer, engineer, and inventor, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Zachariah Allen, a merchant, and Ann Crawford. Allen graduated from Brown University in 1813, receiving a certificate in proficiency from the newly established medical school in addition to his college degree. Although the War of 1812 frustrated his original plan to continue medical study abroad, Allen maintained a lifelong interest in science that expressed itself in practical and theoretical research and writing, principally in mechanics and the physical sciences. He joined the Rhode Island bar in 1815 after studying with James Burrill, Jr., but his career as a lawyer was brief. In 1817 he married Eliza Harriet Arnold; they had three children. Serving on the Providence town council from 1820 to 1823, Allen modernized the town’s fire-fighting system and was an effective proponent of public education, two causes that he continued to espouse throughout his life....

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Atkinson, Edward (10 February 1827–11 December 1905), businessman and reformer, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Amos Atkinson II, a merchant, and Anna Greenleaf Sawyer. He was educated in private schools in both Brookline and Boston, but the family’s financial distress prevented him from attending Harvard as planned and propelled him instead at age fifteen into the world of business. After rising to the accounting department of a Boston dry goods firm, Atkinson in 1851 was appointed treasurer and agent of the textile company Ogden Mills....

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Bachelder, John (07 March 1817–01 July 1906), manufacturer and inventor, was born in Weare, New Hampshire, the son of William Bachelder, a lumberman and blacksmith, and Mary Bailey. Bachelder went to public school and to college for training as a teacher. After teaching school for three years, Bachelder left New Hampshire for Boston. There he found employment as an accountant for a Middlesex Canal transportation firm. Soon he formed a partnership that competed with his former employers. The business closed upon the completion of the Manchester railroad, which eliminated the demand for shipping on the Middlesex Canal. In 1843 Bachelder married Adaline Wason; they had three children. With the demise of his transportation enterprise, he worked in Boston’s dry-goods business until 1846. During the winter of 1846, he traveled to England in an effort to establish himself as an importer. By 1847 he had established his own firm once again in a partnership called Bachelder, Burr and Company....

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Barbour, W. Warren (31 July 1888–22 November 1943), businessman and U.S. senator from New Jersey, was born William Warren Barbour in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, the son of Colonel William Barbour, president of The Linen Thread Company, and Julia Adelaide Sprague. Barbour was educated at the Browning School in New York City. Though admitted to Princeton in 1906, he instead entered the family's thread business. In 1908 Barbour enlisted in Squadron A of the New York National Guard....

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W. Warren Barbour. Courtesy of Congessional Biography.

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Boit, Elizabeth Eaton (09 July 1849–14 November 1932), textile manufacturer, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Henry Boit a janitor and sexton, and Amanda Church Berry. Boit attended Newton public schools and completed two years at Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, Massachusetts. At eighteen she was hired as a timekeeper in the finishing department at Dudley Hosiery Knitting Mill in Newton. She was rewarded for her leadership skills by promotion to assistant forewoman of the finishing department and by 1872 to forewoman. In 1883 the agent of the mill, H. B. Scudder, hired Boit to superintend the manufacturing of children’s scarlet-wool goods and hosiery at his newly established Allston Mills, a position that was normally held by a man....

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Brown, Lydia ( July 1780–19 November 1865), missionary to Hawaii and pioneer of textile production on the islands, was born in Wilton, New Hampshire. Nothing about her life is known before she became a member of the seventh company of missionaries sent to Hawaii by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), arriving in Honolulu aboard the ...

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Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

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Brown, Obadiah (15 July 1771–15 October 1822), merchant and manufacturer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Moses Brown, a merchant, and Anna Brown. He sometimes used the name Obadiah M. Brown to distinguish himself from other Browns with the same first name. Sickly as a child, he initially was educated at home and then attended the Friends New England Yearly Meeting School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1784 and 1788. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Almy and Brown, a Providence cotton textile manufactory established by his father, one of four brothers who were successful Providence merchants and manufacturers. The manufactory was initially managed by Obadiah’s brother-in-law, William Almy, and a cousin, Smith Brown, although under the watchful eye of Moses Brown....