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Berenson, Bernard (26 June 1865–06 October 1959), art historian, was born Bernhard Valvrojenski in Butrimonys, Lithuania, the son of Alter (later Albert) Valvrojenski and Eudice (later Julia) Mickleshanski (or Michliszanski). Many different spellings of his hometown have been recorded, including Biturmansk, Butrymanz, and Butremancz. After immigrating to Boston in 1875, the family changed their surname to Berenson. Berenson completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 1887 with honorable mention in Semitic languages and English composition....

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Belle da Costa Greene. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91222).

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Greene, Belle da Costa (26 November 1879–10 May 1950), library director, bibliographer, and art connoisseur, was born Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of Richard Greener, a lawyer and Republican party activist, and Genevieve Ida Fleet Greener. Her place of birth was probably Washington, D.C., where her father held a variety of jobs. But specifics concerning Greene's childhood and education are scarce because she preferred to keep them a mystery. Apparently, she attended Teachers College in New York City, where the family had relocated after Richard Greener was rewarded with a patronage job for his efforts on behalf of the Republican party. Around 1897, Belle Marion Greener's parents separated, the children staying with their mother, who within a few years changed the surname to Greene and some years thereafter altered her maiden name from Fleet to Van Vliet. During this time the Greenes fully “passed” in the white world, and Belle da Costa Greene (who claimed for herself nonexistent Portuguese forebears) never acknowledged her African lineage....

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Laffan, William Mackay (22 January 1848–19 November 1909), newspaper editor, publisher, and art connoisseur, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Michael Laffan and Ellen Sarah FitzGibbon. He attended Trinity College of Dublin University and St. Cecilia’s School of Medicine. He did not graduate from either institution. Laffan became adept at modeling in clay, etching, and painting in oils and watercolors and was an artist for the Pathological Society of Dublin....

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Okakura Kakuzo (23 December 1862–02 September 1913), art historian, connoisseur, and author of The Book of Tea, art historian, connoisseur, and author of The Book of Tea, was born in Yokohama, Japan, the son of Okakura Kanemon, a silk merchant and former samurai, and his wife, Kono. His eclectic upbringing and gift for languages fitted “Tenshin” (or “heart of heaven,” the honorific name by which Okakura is known to the Japanese) for the role of cultural ambassador to the West. Okakura and his younger brother Yoshisaburo (later a professor of English and for a time a translator for ...