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Bonner, Marita Odette (16 June 1898–06 December 1971), educator and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph Bonner, a machinist and laborer, and Mary A. Nowell. Educated in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools, she applied to Radcliffe College at the urging of her high school faculty adviser and was one of the few African-American students accepted for admission. She majored in English and comparative literature and founded the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority. A gifted pianist and student of musical composition, she won the Radcliffe song competition in 1918 and 1922. Bonner also studied German, a language in which she became fluent. During her last year in college she taught English at a Cambridge high school. After graduating with a B.A. in 1922, she taught at the Bluefield Colored Institute in Bluefield, Virginia, until 1924 and at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., from 1924 to 1930, when she married William Almy Occomy, a Brown graduate. The couple moved to Chicago, where they raised three children....

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Crosby, Fanny (24 March 1820–12 February 1915), poet and author of gospel hymn texts, was born Frances Jane Crosby in Putnam County, New York, the daughter of John Crosby and Mercy Crosby, farmers. (Her mother’s maiden name and married name were the same.) At the age of six weeks, she developed an eye infection, for which a man falsely claiming to be a physician prescribed the application of hot poultices; the tragic result was permanent blindness. That same year her father died, and her mother went to work as a maid. Fanny was first sent to live with her grandmother, and later with a Mrs. Hawley, who realized the child’s precociousness and set her to memorizing much of the Bible. Within two years, Fanny had committed the entire Pentateuch (complete with genealogies), most of the poetic books, and the four Gospels to memory....

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Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110621).

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Fisher, Dorothy F. Canfield (17 February 1879–09 November 1958), author and educational leader, was born Dorothea Frances Canfield in Lawrence, Kansas, the daughter of James Hulme Canfield, a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Kansas, and Flavia A. Camp, an artist. As a child Dorothy summered with relatives in Arlington, Vermont. In 1890 she went to Paris with her mother, visited her mother’s studio in the Latin Quarter, and attended a convent school....