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Grace Abbott Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111723).

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Julie Longo and Sandra F. VanBurkleo

Abbott, Grace (17 November 1878–19 June 1939), social worker and administrator, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the daughter of Othman Ali Abbott, a lawyer and politician, and Elizabeth Griffin, a high school principal. The Abbott household provided an intellectually stimulating environment, emphasizing reading, discussion, and formal education for all four children. Othman Abbott encouraged both Grace and her older sister ...

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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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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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William O. Douglas. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103906).

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Douglas, William O. (16 October 1898–19 January 1980), U.S. Supreme Court justice, New Deal administrator, and environmentalist, was born William Orville Douglas in Maine, Minnesota, near the North Dakota border, the son of Julia Fisk and William Douglas, a Presbyterian minister. The family moved to southern California in 1901 and then to eastern Washington, near Yakima, a year later....

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Gabrielson, Ira Noel (27 September 1889–07 September 1977), wildlife biologist and first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was born in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, the son of Frank August Gabrielson, a partner in a hardware store and later a farmer, and Ida Jansen. During a boyhood spent hunting, fishing, and exploring the countryside, Gabrielson developed a love of nature, photographed and studied birds, and became particularly interested in waterfowl. He graduated from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, with a B.A. in biology in 1912 and spent the next three years teaching high school biology in Marshalltown, Iowa. Just as he was about to enter the University of Iowa on a graduate fellowship, he was offered and accepted a position he had coveted with the Bureau of Biological Survey....

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Helen Hamilton Gardener. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92538).

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Gardener, Helen Hamilton (21 January 1853–26 July 1925), author, suffragist, and U.S. Civil Service commissioner, was born Alice Chenoweth in Winchester, Virginia, the daughter of the Reverend Alfred Griffith Chenoweth and Katherine A. Peel. A Methodist minister, Chenoweth freed his inherited slaves in 1854 and transplanted the family to Washington, D.C., so that his children would not grow up tarnished by slavery. In 1855 the family moved to Greencastle, Indiana, where Gardener went to local schools and was tutored at home. In her late teens she moved by herself to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended high school. She later was a student at Ohio State Normal School, where she served as a teacher and principal after her graduation in 1873....

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Jane M. Hoey. Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G412-T-9232-002).

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Hoey, Jane Margueretta (15 January 1892–06 October 1968), social worker, was born in Greeley County, Nebraska, the daughter of John Hoey and Catherine Mullen, who had immigrated to New York City from Ireland shortly after the Civil War. Twenty years later the family moved west, where John Hoey tried his hand at ranching. When this proved unsuccessful, the Hoeys returned to New York City around 1898. Hoey claimed that growing up in this urban environment she learned about poverty from her mother who “had a deep concern for people, especially those in trouble.” Although John Hoey worked as a laborer, the eight older children quickly found jobs that greatly improved the economic status of the family and ensured Jane’s education....

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Roche, Josephine Aspinwall (02 December 1886–29 July 1976), social worker and New Deal administrator, was born in Neligh, Nebraska, the daughter of John J. Roche, a lawyer, banker, and mining executive, and Ella Aspinwall, a former teacher. Roche spent her childhood in Nebraska, where her father was a member of the state legislature. While Roche was at Vassar College, where she earned a B.A. in 1908, her parents moved to Denver, Colorado, which remained her hometown for much of the rest of her life. After working for a short while as a probation officer there, she returned east....

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Rosenberg, Anna Marie Lederer (19 June 1902–09 May 1983), labor and personnel consultant and assistant secretary of defense, was born in Budapest, Hungary, the daughter of Albert Lederer, a furniture manufacturer, and Charlotte Bacskai, a children’s author and illustrator. Her father was prosperous until Emperor Franz Joseph canceled a furniture order, causing the family to go bankrupt, close down the factory, and move to the United States in 1912. Albert Lederer never forgot that experience, and, no longer at the whim of an emperor and appreciative of his newly found freedoms, he encouraged his daughter to be a patriotic American. She entered New York City’s Wadleigh High School in 1914 and organized the Future Voters League to encourage woman suffrage. While in high school in 1919 she settled a strike by students protesting compulsory military training, and that same year she served as a volunteer nurse and sold Liberty Bonds financing World War I. In 1919 she married an American soldier, Julius Rosenberg; they had one son. Later that year she became a naturalized citizen....

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Simonson, Joy R. (16 January 1919–24 June 2007), government official, District of Columbia activist, and feminist, was born Joy Rosenheim in New York City to Sidney Teller Rosenheim, a stockbroker, and Rosalie Frank Spiegel, a suffragist who was later active in the League of Women Voters. The family, which was Jewish but not especially observant and included a younger brother, moved to Westchester County when Joy was young. After her father’s death in 1931, her mother had enough resources to remain in Scarsdale, where Joy graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1936. After a brush with anti-Semitism during her interview at Swarthmore College, Joy chose Bryn Mawr College instead, where she majored in social economy. With papers on topics such as “Problems of the Professional Woman,” she was already demonstrating her lifelong commitment to women’s issues....

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Switzer, Mary Elizabeth (16 February 1900–16 October 1971), administrator and leader in rehabilitation, was born in Upper Newton Falls, Massachusetts, the daughter of Julius Switzer, a machinist and motorman for the Stanley Steamer Company, and Margaret Moore. Her mother died of tuberculosis in 1911, and Julius Switzer left Boston with his son, relinquishing his two daughters to the care of his wife’s family. “Uncle Mike” Moore exposed his niece to the revolutionary forces of the time, including her in his trips to the Gaelic League and to socialist rallies. Switzer entered Newton Classical High School at fourteen and won a scholarship to Radcliffe College. Elizabeth Brandeis, a Radcliffe friend who directed the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Board, led Switzer to Washington and her first job after her 1921 graduation....

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Winston, Ellen Black (15 August 1903–19 June 1984), public welfare administrator, was born in Bryson City, North Carolina, the daughter of Stanley Warren Black, a lawyer, and Marianna Fischer, who was trained as a schoolteacher. Ellen’s parents were leaders in the small mountain community. Her father was president of the bank and chairman of the county school board. Her mother organized a local parent-teacher association and a women’s club, and she founded the public library that bears her name....

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Ximenes, Vicente Trevino (05 December 1919–27 February 2014), civil rights activist and government official, was the fifth of eight children born to José Jesus Ximenes and Herlinda Treviño y Ximenes in Floresville, Texas. José Ximenes, a graduate of Draughon’s Business College of San Antonio, was a prominent local figure who owned a mercantile, served as a court interpreter, and played an active role in Floresville political life. Both parents maintained a strong commitment to education. Herlinda Ximenes taught her children to read and write in both English and Spanish to help them advance academically in the substandard segregated Texas public school system. The Ximenes family was distinguished for having five children complete college degrees....

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Yellowley, Edward Clements (12 August 1873–08 February 1962), federal Prohibition and Internal Revenue administrator, was born on a plantation near Ridgeland, Mississippi, the son of James Brownlow Yellowley, a lawyer and planter, and Jessie Perkins. His parents belonged to the antebellum plantation aristocracy and were financially devastated by the Civil War. The family moved to a plantation near Greenville, North Carolina, during his childhood. Best known as E. C., Yellowley attended a military academy in 1888 and subsequently operated his father’s plantation. He married Mary Helms about 1896; she died childless two years later....

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Yellowtail, Robert Summers (1889–18 June 1988), Crow Indian politician, activist, and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) official, was born near Lodge Grass, Montana on the Crow Indian Reservation to Yellowtail, a Crow Indian, and Elizabeth Frazee Chienne, of mixed Crow and French-Canadian descent. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but 1889 is widely regarded as the correct year. His parents were both enrolled members of the Crow tribe; his father belonging to the Big Lodge clan and his mother a member of the Whistling Waters clan (which became Robert Yellowtail’s clan, based on Crow matrilineal kinship). Born at a time when the Crows were experiencing extreme pressure to acculturate to white society, Robert was sent to a reservation boarding school and later attended Sherman Institute, a government-operated off-reservation boarding school in Riverside, California. Despite his early immersion in the white world, Robert followed precepts of Crow kinship norms and culture. Intelligent and outgoing he worked in the office of a local justice of the peace in California after graduating from Sherman Institute in 1907. Hoping to attend law school he returned to Montana around 1910 and became a stockman on the Crow Reservation....