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Arnold, Richard Dennis (19 August 1808–10 July 1876), physician, was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of Joseph Arnold and Eliza Dennis, occupations unknown. Despite hardships accompanying the deaths of both parents during childhood, Arnold, who had been an only child, received an excellent preliminary education and graduated with distinction from Princeton in 1826. He immediately began a medical apprenticeship under William R. Waring, a distinguished preceptor and member of an illustrious Charleston and Savannah family of physicians. After receiving his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830, Arnold served for two years as a resident house officer in Philadelphia’s old Blockley Hospital before returning to Savannah where in 1833 he married Margaret Baugh Stirk. Their only child, Eleanor, born the next year, became the lifelong object of her father’s loving solicitude following her mother’s untimely death from pulmonary tuberculosis in 1850....

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Bancroft, Frederic A. (30 October 1860–22 February 1945), historian, librarian, and philanthropist, was born Frederic Austin Bancroft in Galesburg, Illinois, the son of Addison Newton Bancroft, a businessman, and Catherine Blair. Bancroft, raised in abolitionist surroundings, attended school at Knox Academy, Knox College (1878–1881), transferred to Amherst College in 1881, and graduated a year later. He entered Columbia University’s School of Political Science in 1882 to study southern history with ...

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Bruce, John Edward (22 February 1856–07 August 1924), journalist and historian, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859 Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce’s slaveholder, sold him to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, Bruce lived in Maryland until 1861 when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where Bruce lived until 1892. In 1865 Bruce’s mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where Bruce received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, where Bruce continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. Bruce married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. They had no children. In 1895 Bruce married Florence Adelaide Bishop, with whom he had one child....

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Coman, Katharine (23 November 1857–11 January 1915), economic historian and social reformer, was born in Newark, Ohio, the daughter of Levi Parsons Coman and Martha Seymour. An abolitionist and leader of a voluntary group serving in the Civil War, Katharine’s father held various occupations, including those of teacher, storekeeper, and lawyer. Because of poor health he moved his family to a farm near Hanover, Ohio, after the Civil War. Both of Katharine’s parents had college degrees, her father from Hamilton College and her mother from an Ohio seminary. Consequently, they sought good educations for all their children, male and female alike. As a young girl, Katharine took lessons in Latin and mathematics along with her brothers. She first attended Steubenville Female Seminary, but when the school refused to give her more challenging studies, Levi Coman moved his daughter to the high school of the University of Michigan. She later entered the university and received a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1880....

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Douglass, William ( October 1681–21 October 1752), doctor, historian, and pioneer in colonial philanthropy, was born in Gifford, Scotland, the son of George Douglass, chamberlain to the marquis of Tweeddale, and Katherine Inglis. His father, a man of distinction in local affairs, was able to afford a fine education for his son. William earned his master’s degree in 1705 from Edinburgh University where, influenced by Dr. Archibald Pitcairne, he decided on a medical career. At the University of Leyden he studied under Dr. Herman Boerhaave and then earned his medical degree from the University of Utrecht in 1712. His medical dissertation, ...

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Drinker, Sophie Lewis Hutchinson (24 August 1888–06 September 1967), feminist and amateur historian, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Sydney Pemberton Hutchinson, a business executive, and Amy Lewis. As a dedicated student of history in later life, she took pride in the fact that the Hutchinson family had played a prominent role in the Philadelphia area since colonial times. While not conspicuously wealthy, the family was socially prominent and considered to represent “blue blood.” Drinker’s education was completed at St. Timothy’s School in Catonsville, Maryland, from which she graduated in 1906; she enjoyed her school years, and her historical studies there provided inspiration for her later work as a historian of women....

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Flexner, Eleanor (04 October 1908–25 March 1995), historian, feminist, and labor activist, was born in New York City, the second of two daughters of Abraham Flexner and Anne Crawford Flexner. Abraham was a prominent author and innovator in education reform who founded the Lincoln School at Teachers College of Columbia University and established the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Anne earned fame and fortune for her Broadway-produced play ...

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Flick, Lawrence Francis (10 August 1856–07 July 1938), physician, historian, and early leader in the campaign against tuberculosis, was born in Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Flick, a mill owner and farmer, and Elizabeth Schabacher (changed to Sharbaugh). Flick grew up on the family farm, but poor health excused him from the usual chores. A bookish boy and a devout Roman Catholic, he first attended local schools. For most of his teenage years, he studied at St. Vincent’s, a Benedictine college in Beatty (now Latrobe), Pennsylvania, but symptoms suggesting tuberculosis cut short his classwork, and he returned home. After a period of indecision and various jobs, he entered Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1879. He then completed an internship at Philadelphia Hospital and opened an office for the practice of medicine. His persisting illness, however, was finally diagnosed as tuberculosis and, following his physicians’ advice, he traveled to the West for his health. By 1883, improvement allowed him to resume his practice, which soon included increasing numbers of patients with tuberculosis. “When I recovered from tuberculosis as a young man,” he wrote, “I consecrated my life to the welfare of those afflicted with the disease and to the protection of those who had not yet contracted it” ( ...

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Hildreth, Richard (28 June 1807–11 July 1865), journalist, antislavery activist, philosopher, and historian, was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the son of Hosea Hildreth, a Congregational (later Unitarian) minister and educator, and Sarah McLeod Hildreth. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where his father was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. After graduating from Harvard in 1826, he spent a year teaching school in Concord, Massachusetts. This experience inspired his earliest historical writing, ...

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Jackson, Luther Porter (11 July 1892–20 April 1950), historian and activist, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Edward William Jackson, a dairy farmer, and Delilah Culverson, a schoolteacher. He was the ninth of twelve children of parents who had been slaves. Jackson attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, completing his A.B. in 1914 and his M.A. in 1916. Meanwhile, he began teaching in 1915 at Voorhees Industrial School in Denmark, South Carolina, where he was also director of the academic department. In 1918 he left South Carolina to become instructor of history and music at the Topeka Industrial Institute in Topeka, Kansas....

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Jackson, Samuel Macauley (19 June 1851–02 August 1912), church historian and philanthropist, was born in New York City, the son of George T. Jackson, a businessman, and Letitia Jane Aiken Macauley. Born into a socially prominent and financially comfortable family, Jackson embodied the intellectual tastes and public mindedness often found among members of that class. In 1870 he graduated from the College of the City of New York and for the next year studied divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1871 he transferred to Union Theological Seminary in New York City, graduating with a B.D. degree in 1873. For two years thereafter he toured Europe and took advanced courses at the universities in Leipzig and Berlin. Upon his return to the United States, he earned an A.M. degree from the College of the City of New York in 1876 and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. For four years he served as pastor of a church in Norwood, New Jersey....

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Kohler, Max James (22 May 1871–24 July 1934), jurist, historian, and Jewish communal worker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Kaufmann Kohler and Johanna Einhorn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and both his father and grandfather, David Einhorn, were leading rabbis of the Reform Movement in American Judaism. Upon the death of Kohler’s grandfather in 1879, his father assumed Einhorn’s pulpit at New York’s Congregation Beth El, and the family moved to that city. There he grew up in an atmosphere infused with a devotion to both religious values and scholarly pursuits. After completing high school, Kohler attended the College of the City of New York, where he won several important literary prizes. Following his graduation in 1890, he entered Columbia University, from which he received both M.A. (1891) and LL.B. (1893) degrees. He was admitted to the New York State bar in 1893 and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, resigning after four years to start a private law practice. In 1906 he married Winifred Lichtenauer, who died in 1922. No children resulted from the marriage....

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Oliver La Farge Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach, 1930. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-116958).

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La Farge, Oliver Hazard Perry (19 December 1901–02 August 1963), anthropologist, author, and advocate of American Indian reform and welfare, was born in New York City, the son of Christopher Grant La Farge, an architect, and Florence Bayard Lockwood. A descendant and namesake of ...

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Logan, Rayford Whittingham (07 January 1897–04 November 1981), historian of the African diaspora, university professor, and civil rights and Pan-Africanist activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Arthur Logan and Martha Whittingham, domestic workers. Two circumstances of Logan’s parents are germane to his later life and work. Although he grew up in modest circumstances, his parents enjoyed a measure of status in the Washington black community owing to his father’s employment as a butler in the household of Frederic Walcott, Republican senator from Connecticut. And the Walcotts took an interest in the Logan family, providing them with occasional gifts, including money to purchase a house. The Walcotts also took an interest in Rayford Logan’s education, presenting him with books and later, in the 1920s and 1930s, introducing him to influential whites in government. Logan grew up on family lore about the antebellum free Negro heritage of the Whittinghams. It is open to question how much of what he heard was factual; nevertheless, he learned early to make class distinctions among African Americans and to believe that his elite heritage also imposed on him an obligation to help lead his people to freedom and equality....

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Nell, William Cooper (20 December 1816–25 May 1874), abolitionist and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Guion Nell, a tailor, and Louisa (maiden name unknown). His father, a prominent figure in the small but influential African-American community in Boston’s West End during the 1820s, was a next-door neighbor and close associate of the controversial black abolitionist ...

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Rollins, Philip Ashton (20 January 1869–11 September 1950), author, bibliophile, and philanthropist, was born in Somersworth, New Hampshire, the son of Edward Ashton Rollins, a financier, and Ellen Chapman Hobbs, an author. His father, a Harvard-trained lawyer, was active in Republican politics and served as a high-level Treasury Department official in the ...

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Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps (11 April 1867–18 December 1944), architect and historian, was born in New York City, the son of Anson Phelps Stokes, a banker, and Helen Louisa Phelps. His education was interrupted by episodes of ill health, but he entered Harvard University in 1887 and graduated in 1891. Stokes worked briefly in banking before he began to study at the School of Architecture of Columbia University from 1893 to 1894. He left without taking a degree and went to Paris to study housing design at the École des Beaux Arts. Improved tenement housing was to be a lifelong interest of his. In 1895 he married Edith Minturn. They had an adopted daughter....

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Ware, Caroline Farrar (14 August 1899–05 April 1990), historian, consumer activist, and expert on community development, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the daughter of Henry Ware, a lawyer, and Louisa Farrar Wilson. Ware came from a prominent Unitarian family with an activist tradition. Her abolitionist grandfather and great aunt participated in the Port Royal experiment after the Union occupation of the Sea Islands of South Carolina in November 1861. Charles Ware served as a labor superintendent of cotton plantations, while his sister, Harriet Ware, taught in a school for freedmen and women. Her parents were active in community affairs. Her father served as the treasurer of many voluntary organizations; her mother taught Sunday school and did volunteer work for the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts....

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Emma Hart Willard. Brown-toned platinum print, c. 1900. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Dr. and Mrs. R. Ted Steinbock.