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Campbell, Lucie E. (1885–03 January 1963), gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Her mother was widowed several months after Lucie’s birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother’s meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family’s insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child: Lucie’s older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora....

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Sankey, Ira David (28 August 1840–14 August 1908), singing evangelist and gospel songwriter, was born in Edinburg, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, the son of David Sankey and Mary Leeper. Sankey’s father was a Pennsylvania state representative, collector of internal revenue, member of the State Board of Equalization, and newspaper editor. During Sankey’s childhood his father also farmed in West Central Pennsylvania, near the Ohio border. The family attended King’s Chapel near Western Reserve Harbor, where Sankey was converted during revival meetings in 1856. In 1857, when Sankey’s father accepted the presidency of a local bank, the family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Sankey joined the New Castle Methodist Church. By 1860 he was Sunday school superintendent and choir director....

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Ira D. Sankey. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108534).

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Shindler, Mary Dana (15 February 1810–08 February 1883), songwriter and advocate of reform, was born Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer in Beaufort, South Carolina, the daughter of Benjamin Morgan Palmer and Mary Stanley Bunce. In 1814 her father, a Princeton graduate, became co-pastor of Charleston’s Independent (Congregational) Church. Mary attended a prestigious school for girls in Charleston and received a lady’s education at seminaries conducted by clergymen in Connecticut and New Jersey. Some of her juvenile poems were published in a periodical that was edited locally. Through family connections she met many of antebellum America’s leading clergymen, foreign and domestic missionaries, and women involved in church work and charities....

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Smith, Samuel Francis (21 October 1808–16 November 1895), editor, Baptist clergyman, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Smith and Sarah Bryant. Young Smith was educated at both the Eliot School and the Boston Latin School, where he received the distinguished Franklin medal in 1825. At Harvard College, Smith became part of the famous class of 1829, which also included ...

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Thompson, Will Lamartine (07 November 1847–20 September 1909), composer and publisher, was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, the son of Josiah Thompson and Sarah Jackman. His father was self-educated and worked for a time as a clerk on the wharf in Pittsburgh. He became a successful merchant and, about the time of Will’s birth, moved to East Liverpool, Ohio, where he established the mercantile firm of J. Thompson and Company. Three of his sons, including Will, were to be partners in the firm, and Will also served on the board of directors of the East Liverpool Bank, which his father established in 1873. The Thompson family was highly regarded in the East Liverpool area, and Josiah Thompson was elected to the fifty-eighth (1868), fifty-ninth (1870), and sixtieth (1872) sessions of the Ohio legislature....

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White, Anna (21 January 1831–16 December 1910), Shaker eldress, author, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Robert White, a businessman and farmer, and Hannah Gibbs, an almoner (a distributor of goods to the needy) for the Quakers. White was educated at Mansion Square Seminary, a Quaker school, in Poughkeepsie, New York. When she was seventeen she learned the tailoring trade and helped her mother distribute alms from the Quakers to the poor of New York City. Her father had become a Shaker and divided his time between living with his natural family and residing with the Shakers. His decision to become a Shaker angered his wife and alienated all his children except Anna who also became interested. Every effort was made to dissuade her from Shakerism, and an uncle even proposed to settle $40,000 on her if she would give up thinking about it....