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Abbott, Joseph Carter (15 July 1825–08 October 1881), senator and journalist, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Aaron Carter Abbott, a farmer and laborer, and Nancy Badger. After graduating in 1846 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Abbott studied law. He began his practice in Concord in 1852, the year he became editor and proprietor of the ...

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Abbott, Lyman (18 December 1835–22 October 1922), Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Abbott, a pastor and author of the “Rollo” children’s books, and Harriet Vaughan. Raised in Farmington, Maine, Abbott graduated from New York University with an A.B. in 1853. He then joined his brothers’ law firm, passing the bar examination in 1856. The following year he married Abby Frances Hamlin, and they settled in Brooklyn, New York. There Abbott came under the influence of the nationally renowned preacher ...

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Abbott, Robert Sengstacke (28 November 1868–29 February 1940), newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and his mother moved to Savannah where she eventually was remarried in 1874 to John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the ...

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Abell, Arunah Sheperdson (10 August 1806–19 April 1888), journalist and publisher, was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Caleb Abell, a quartermaster in the War of 1812, and Elona Sheperdson. Abell left school at age fourteen and worked for two years in a shop that dealt in West Indian goods. In 1822 he was apprenticed to the ...

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Adams, Cyrus Cornelius (07 January 1849–04 May 1928), geographer and editor, was born in Naperville, Illinois, the son of Cyrus Adams and Cornelia Stevens, farmers. He was raised by his aunt and uncle in Bloomington, Minnesota, and attended the nascent University of Minnesota for a year, continuing at the first University of Chicago. He became a reporter for the Chicago ...

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Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Adams, John Quincy (04 May 1848–03 September 1922), newspaper editor and publisher, civil rights leader, and Republican party activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return to Louisville, where he again engaged in teaching....

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Adams, Samuel Hopkins (26 January 1871–16 November 1958), muckraker and writer, was born in Dunkirk, New York, the son of Myron Adams, Jr., a minister, and Hester Rose Hopkins. He attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, from 1887 to 1891, with a semester at Union College. After graduation he was a devoted alumnus, serving as trustee (1905–1916), winning election to Phi Beta Kappa (1907), and receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1926....

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Adams, William Taylor (30 July 1822–27 March 1897), publisher and writer of juvenile fiction, was born in Medway, Massachusetts, the son of Laban Adams, a tavern keeper, and Catherine Johnson. An honors student in the Boston and West Roxbury public schools, he also attended Able Whitney’s private academy for a year after he completed his secondary schooling. He began teaching school while still in his teens but also helped his father manage the family-operated “Adams House” in Boston for a short time. As a young boy, he traveled extensively throughout the country, taking detailed notes on his journeys, many of which he used in later years in his writings. His first published work, an article in the ...

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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).

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Agee, James Rufus (27 November 1909–16 May 1955), writer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Hugh James Agee, a construction company employee, and Laura Whitman Tyler. The father’s family were poorly educated mountain farmers, while the mother’s were solidly middle class. Agee was profoundly affected by his father’s death in a car accident in 1916. He idealized his absent father and struggled against his mother and her genteel and (he felt) cold values. “Agee’s mother wanted him to be clean, chaste, and sober,” the photographer ...

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Ahern, Mary Eileen (01 October 1860–22 May 1938), librarian and editor, was born on a farm southwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, to William Ahern, a farmer, and Mary O’Neill, both Irish immigrants. In 1870 the family left the farm for Spencer, Indiana, where Mary Eileen graduated from high school in 1878. Following her graduation from Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, in 1881, she worked as a teacher in the public schools of Bloomfield, Spencer, and Peru, Indiana, for eight years....

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Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....

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Aitken, Robert (22 January 1735–15 July 1802), printer and publisher, was born in Dalkeith, Scotland. His parents’ names are unknown. Sometime after serving a regular apprenticeship with a bookbinder in Edinburgh, he became established in Paisley, Scotland, as a binder, bookseller, and proprietor of a circulating library. From there he moved to Philadelphia in May 1771 with his wife, Janet Skeoch, and two children, the eldest of whom was seven; two more children were later born in Philadelphia. In June he opened a stationer’s shop and what was soon “the largest and most valuable bookstore” in the city. With the publication in 1773 of ...

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Alden, Henry Mills (11 November 1836–07 October 1919), editor and author, was born in Mount Tabor, Vermont, the son of Ira Alden, a farmer, and Elizabeth Packard Moore. Alden grew up in a working-class family in rural Vermont and in the manufacturing town of Hoosick, New York, where he worked from dawn until eight o’clock at night as a “bobbin boy” in a cotton factory. With only a sporadic common school education, Alden, at the age of fourteen, decided to prepare for college by entering Ball Seminary, where he performed chores to pay for his tuition. In 1852 Alden graduated valedictorian from Ball Seminary and entered Williams College the next year....

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Aldrich, Thomas Bailey (11 November 1836–19 March 1907), author and editor, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Elias Taft Aldrich, a businessman, and Sarah Abba Bailey. Aldrich was educated in Portsmouth under Samuel De Merritt, and the Portsmouth environs furnished the background for much of his work, as did the backdrops of New York City and Boston, where he spent his adult life. Aldrich moved to New York City at age sixteen to work in his uncle’s commission house. After reading ...

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Allen, Elizabeth Akers (09 October 1832–07 August 1911), poet and journalist, was born Elizabeth Ann Chase in Strong, Maine, the second of three daughters of Thomas Chase, a carpenter and circuit preacher, and Mercy Fenno Barton. Her childhood was traumatic. A fourth sibling died accidentally, and her frail mother, whose medical treatments led Elizabeth to vow to murder the doctor, died in 1836. Her father placed his daughters separately with acquaintances until he remarried the following year. Four-year-old Elizabeth’s foster parents forced her to work, whipped her, and shut her in the cellar when she failed to meet their expectations. She had some schooling at Farmington (Maine) Academy. She wrote her first verses at age twelve; these were published in a Vermont newspaper, having been submitted without her knowledge. Eager to escape a grim home, she began working at thirteen, first in a sweatshop-like bookbindery, later as a teacher....

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Allen, Frederick Lewis (05 July 1890–13 February 1954), editor and social historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Frederick Baylies Allen, a clergyman, and Alberta Hildegarde Lewis. Allen was educated at Groton School and Harvard University, where he received his B.A. in English in 1912 and his M.A. in 1913 in modern languages. Allen edited the literary magazine at Harvard and subsequently taught composition there for two years; he became an assistant editor at the ...