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Charles Francis Adams, Jr. During his Civil War service. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8171-7390).

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Adams, Charles Francis (27 May 1835–20 March 1915), railroad official, civic leader, and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), a diplomat and politician, and Abigail Brown Brooks. He was the grandson of John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) and great-grandson of ...

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Benson, Oscar Herman (08 July 1875–15 August 1951), educator and organizer of youth groups, was born in Delhi, Iowa, the son of P. C. Benson and Celia Ortberg, farmers. His father died when Oscar was still a child, and he became the principal support for his mother and three younger siblings. He continued to farm and took on additional jobs to pay for his education. At the age of eighteen, while working in a sawmill, he lost three fingers in an accident. His neighbors, in admiration of his determination to succeed, took up a collection that enabled him to continue his schooling. In 1898 Benson graduated from Epworth (Iowa) Seminary and Teaching College and then financed three further years of college (the State University of Iowa, Iowa State Teachers’ College, and the University of Chicago) by teaching in rural schools. In 1902 he married Sadie J. Jackson; they had three children....

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Coppin, Fanny Jackson (1837–21 January 1913), educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father’s name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by ...

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Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (02 February 1861–14 March 1949), teacher, author, and civic leader, was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Michael (also spelled Micheil) Cotter, a boarding house owner, and Martha Vaughn. Although his father was known as an avid reader, Cotter was raised largely by his mother, a freeborn woman of mixed English, Cherokee, and African blood. It was from her naturally dramatic manner—she orally composed poems and plays as she worked at chores—that he acquired his love of language and stories. Having taught herself, she also taught Cotter to read and enrolled him in school, but at age eight economic necessity forced him to drop out and begin working at various jobs: in a brickyard, then a distillery, and finally as a ragpicker and a teamster. Until age twenty-two, manual labor consumed much of Cotter’s life....

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Follett, Mary Parker (03 September 1868–18 December 1933), theorist of social organization and civic leader, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles Allen Follett and Elizabeth Curtis Baxter. Follett’s father attempted a variety of jobs and her mother took in boarders before the family finally moved in with Follett’s wealthy maternal grandfather. In 1888 Follett enrolled at the Harvard Annex, the precursor of Radcliffe College, and graduated summa cum laude in 1898. During this ten-year period she also spent a year at Newnham College, Cambridge University, and worked for a few years as a schoolteacher at Mrs. Shaw’s School in Boston. Follett’s perceptiveness as an observer of social and political phenomena was evident even before her college graduation when Longmans, Green published her book ...

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Gilbert, Helen Homans (29 October 1913–26 September 1989), college trustee and community volunteer, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the daughter of Robert Homans, a lawyer, and Abigail Adams. True to her Adams and Homans antecedents, she carried on a tradition of public service that dated back to the beginnings of the republic. She was, she said, “a New Englander with a family conscience who inherited community responsibility.” Robert Homans decided that both his daughters should attend college to prepare for careers as teachers “since no Homans woman in living memory had ever married.”...

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Hallowell, Anna (01 November 1831–06 April 1905), civic leader and education reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Morris Longstreth Hallowell, a prominent Quaker merchant, and Hannah Smith Penrose. She was reared in a family that grappled with religious and social concerns. In 1827 Anna’s parents had allied themselves with the liberal Hicksite (“heterodox”) branch of the Society of Friends. Within their social circle were Hicksite activists like abolitionist ...

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Hogg, Ima (10 July 1882–19 August 1975), civic leader, collector, and philanthropist, was born in Mineola, Texas, the daughter of James Stephen Hogg and Sarah Ann “Sallie” Stinson. Her father was governor of Texas in the 1890s and later a wealthy oilman. He named Ima after a character in a poem by his late brother Thomas....

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Hope, Lugenia D. Burns (19 February 1871–14 August 1947), community organizer and educator, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Ferdinand Burns, a well-to-do carpenter, and Louisa M. Bertha. Lugenia was raised in a Grace Presbyterian, middle-class family. Her father’s sudden death forced her mother to move the family to Chicago to maintain their class standing and provide Lugenia, or “Genie” as she was called, with educational opportunities lacking in St. Louis. From 1890 to 1893, while her older siblings worked to support the family, Lugenia attended high school and special classes, the Chicago School of Design, the Chicago Business College, and the Chicago Art Institute....

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Lingelbach, Anna Lane (10 October 1873–14 July 1954), educator, historian, and civic leader, was born in Shelbyville, Illinois, the daughter of Oscar F. Lane, a farmer and minister of the Disciples of Christ, and Mary F. Wendling. Following her early education in private schools, she enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington against strenuous objection from her father, who, like many of his era, felt higher education inappropriate for a woman. This early expression of Anna’s force of character foreshadowed a life exhibiting similar determination and courage in a career of rich and diverse dimensions....

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Ueland, Clara Hampson (10 October 1860–01 March 1927), teacher, suffragist, and civic leader, was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Oscar Hampson, an unsuccessful businessman, and Eliza Osborn. Her father, discharged in 1863 from the Union army because of unspecified ailments, died a year later, leaving his impoverished widow with two small children. The trio of Hampsons sought refuge with Eliza’s sisters, initially in Faribault, Minnesota, and then in Minneapolis. They finally settled in a small apartment over a hardware store in an area of the city that prompted Maud Conkey Stockwell, a schoolmate, friend, and later a fellow suffragist, to comment, “I can remember thinking how incongruous she was with all the saloons around that district. She was dark and slim, a beauty beyond compare” (B. Ueland, “Clara,” p. 16). Despite her surroundings and continuing poverty, Clara was happy in school and a well-adjusted young woman. It says something about her character that she refused other invitations to a junior class dance to go with the only African-American boy in the school, because she felt he needed friendship and support....

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Walls, William Jacob (08 May 1885–23 April 1975), African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop, civic leader, and author, African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop, civic leader, and author, was born in Chimney Rock, Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of Hattie Edgerton and Edward Walls. His father died when Walls was only eight years old, leaving Hattie Walls, with the help of relatives and friends, to support and provide sufficient education for Walls and his three younger sisters. In 1899, at age fourteen, he entered the ministry. He was licensed to preach at the Hopkins Chapel AMEZ Church in Asheville, North Carolina, and began as an evangelist. He was ordained as a deacon in 1903 and received full ministerial, or elder, orders in 1905. After attending Allen Industrial School in Asheville, he transferred to the AMEZ-supported Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he received a B.A. in 1908. Five years later he received a bachelor of divinity degree from the denomination’s Hood Theological Seminary. During 1921–1922 he studied philosophy and journalism at Columbia University. While in New York City Walls also studied the Bible at Union Theological Seminary, which was located near the university. Twenty years later, in 1941, he attained an M.A. in Christian education from the University of Chicago Divinity School....

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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....