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Bachrach, Louis Fabian (16 July 1881–24 July 1963), portrait photographer and businessman, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of David Bachrach, Jr., a photographer, and Frances Keyser. Bachrach attended public schools and graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1897. He also took classes at the Maryland Institute of Art and Design and the New York Art Students League; these classes gave him the “sense of line and knowledge of the anatomy of the human figure” that proved invaluable to him as a photographer....

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Burrell, Berkeley Graham (12 June 1919–30 August 1979), business executive and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Hayward G. Burrell and Fannie Miles. Although his parents’ occupations are unknown, both his father and mother were natives of the District of Columbia, and Burrell’s roots in the area ran deep. After graduating from Dunbar High School at the age of fifteen, he worked as a driver for a local pharmacy and apparently also drove a cab for a while. He married at age sixteen (wife’s name unknown), and the marriage produced a son before ending in divorce seven years later....

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DeWolf, James (18 March 1764–21 December 1837), slave trader, politician, and businessman, was born in Bristol, Rhode Island. His father, Mark Anthony DeWolf, emigrated from Guadeloupe Island, West Indies, after being hired as a deckhand on a slave-trading vessel owned by Simeon Potter. Once back in Bristol, Potter introduced Mark Anthony to his sister Abigail Potter. The two married shortly thereafter and had fifteen children; eight were sons of which three died at sea. The remaining five boys, including James, became involved in the transatlantic slave trade. All the DeWolf children, boys and girls, received a formal education and lived a somewhat privileged life....

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George Eastman. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Eastman, George (12 July 1854–14 March 1932), inventor, businessman, and philanthropist, was born in Waterville, New York, the son of George Washington Eastman, a nurseryman and educator, and Maria Kilbourn. His father’s pioneering work in establishing Eastman Mercantile (or Commercial) College in Rochester in 1842, a prototype for later business schools, perhaps inspired Eastman to be a trailblazer in another field. His father died when George was seven, two years after the family moved to Rochester, and his mother took in boarders. Eastman attended public and private schools until age thirteen, when he became an office boy in a real estate firm to help support his mother and two older sisters. A year later Eastman transferred to an insurance office and in 1874 he became a bookkeeper for the Rochester Savings Bank....

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Faber, John Eberhard (06 December 1822–02 March 1879), pencil manufacturer, was born in the town of Stein, Bavaria, near the city of Nuremberg, the son of Georg Leonhard Faber, a and Albertina Frederika Kupfer Faber. The family pencil company, A. W. Faber, had been founded in Stein in 1761 by John Eberhard's great-grandfather Kaspar Faber and had become one of the most successful in Europe—so successful, in fact, that the very name “Faber” had come to be used as a generic term for pencil....

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Gates, Frederick Taylor (02 July 1853–06 February 1929), Baptist minister and philanthropic and business adviser, was born near Maine, in Broome County, New York, the son of Granville Gates, a Baptist minister, and Sarah Jane Bowers. During his childhood the Gates family moved frequently as his father changed pulpits. Young Frederick received his education in the public schools, beginning in Centre Lisle, then in Brookton in Tompkins County (1862–1866), and then in Ovid in Seneca County, where he attended two terms of the East Genisee Conference Seminary (1866–1867)....

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Hall, J. C. (29 August 1891–29 October 1982), greeting card manufacturer, was born Joyce Hall in David City, Nebraska, the son of George Nelson Hall, a nondenominational lay preacher, and Nancy Dudley Houston. The grandson of men who had fought on both sides at the Battle of Shiloh in the Civil War, he lost his father at an early age and went to work in 1900 as a door-to-door salesman for the California Perfume Company, later renamed Avon Products. Two years later his family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, where his older brothers, Rollie and William, bought a book and stationery store. Joyce worked there after school and on weekends to help support his semi-invalid mother and his sister Marie. In 1903 he traveled with Rollie on sales trips through Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota, selling candy and postcards, along with a sawdust sweeping compound. Two years later the three Hall brothers each invested $158 to form the Norfolk Postcard Brokerage Company, with Joyce, who had taken the middle name Clyde, listed as “J. C. Hall, Manager.” They had moderate success selling picture postcards, imported from England and Germany, to Norfolk shopkeepers. In 1910 the young entrepreneur finished school and moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended business college at night and, with savings of $3,500, established his own business as a postcard jobber in his room at the Young Men’s Christian Association. Within a few months the volume of his sales compelled him to open a separate office....

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Martha Matilda Harper Her hair reaching down near her ankles, c. 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-76323)

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Harper, Martha Matilda (10 September 1857–03 August 1950), businesswoman and inventor of the franchise system, was born in Munn's Corner, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, the fourth child of Robert Harper and Beady Gifford. The Harpers had ten children and two, Nellie and James, died in infancy. Robert was a tailor by trade but struggled to support his large family. He invested his money and dreams into a failed development. Subsequently he bound out Harper, at age seven, to help support the family. While this was common practice for poor teenage girls, it was highly unusual for young children....

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Jackson, Maynard Holbrook, Jr. (23 March 1938–23 June 2003), Atlanta mayor, businessman, and national political leader, was born in Dallas, Texas, the second of five children and the eldest son of the Reverend Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Sr., and Irene Dobbs Jackson, a professor of French. The family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1945 when Reverend Jackson was chosen as the new minister of Friendship Baptist Church. A large youth who grew into a six-foot-three, three-hundred-pound adult, Maynard, Jr., was a poor athlete but a brilliant student who skipped grades six and seven, as well as his junior and senior years of high school, and enrolled in Morehouse College at age fourteen. When his father died the following year, his maternal grandfather, the Atlanta civic and political leader John Wesley Dobbs, became his surrogate father. Dobbs was one of the most important leaders in Atlanta’s black community for more than four decades. He was known as the “Mayor of Auburn Avenue” (the location of several of Atlanta’s largest black businesses), and he served as the national grand master of the Prince Hall Masons from 1932 until his death in 1961....

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Nielsen, A. C. (05 September 1897–01 June 1980), market research engineer and business executive, was born Arthur Charles Nielsen in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Danish immigrant Rasmus Nielsen, a business executive, and Harriet Burr Gunn, a teacher. He received his early education at the grammar school in Berwyn and Morton High School in Cicero. He went on to the University of Wisconsin, where in 1918 he obtained a B.S. in electrical engineering, delivering the valedictory address and graduating with the highest grades a student had ever achieved there. In 1918 he also married Gertrude B. Smith; they had five children. That year he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an ensign and served during World War I on the USS ...

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Vestey, Evelyn (01 August 1875–23 May 1941), business executive, known as Lady Vestey, was born Evelene Brodstone in Monroe, Wisconsin, the daughter of Hans Brodstone and Mathilde Brodstone (maiden name unknown), Norwegian immigrants. In 1878, the family moved to a farm near Superior, Nebraska. The following year her father died. As a youngster, one of her closest friends was ...