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Haynes, Elizabeth Ross (30 July 1883–26 October 1953), social scientist, politician, and community leader, was born in Mount Willing, Lowndes County, Alabama, the daughter of Henry Ross and Mary Carnes. Elizabeth Ross’s parents were hard workers who amassed some wealth through the purchase of land that eventually grew to become a 1,500-acre plantation. Little is known about her parents beyond their commitment to their only child’s well-being and success. Elizabeth attended the State Normal School in Montgomery and later won a scholarship to Fisk University, where she was awarded an A.B. degree in 1903. She taught school in Alabama and Texas for several years after graduation, and during 1905 and 1907 she attended summer school at the University of Chicago....

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Jane M. Hoey. Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G412-T-9232-002).

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Hoey, Jane Margueretta (15 January 1892–06 October 1968), social worker, was born in Greeley County, Nebraska, the daughter of John Hoey and Catherine Mullen, who had immigrated to New York City from Ireland shortly after the Civil War. Twenty years later the family moved west, where John Hoey tried his hand at ranching. When this proved unsuccessful, the Hoeys returned to New York City around 1898. Hoey claimed that growing up in this urban environment she learned about poverty from her mother who “had a deep concern for people, especially those in trouble.” Although John Hoey worked as a laborer, the eight older children quickly found jobs that greatly improved the economic status of the family and ensured Jane’s education....

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Kittredge, Mabel Hyde (19 September 1867–08 May 1955), civic and social worker, was born in Boston Massachusetts, the daughter of Rev. Abbott Eliott Kittredge, a pastor of New York’s Central Presbyterian Church, and Margaret Ann Hyde. Kittredge attended private schools, finishing her formal education at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, but she never “translated these privileges into any sense of social exclusiveness or superiority; and … never regarded her education as ‘finished’ ” (Gilkey, sect. 3)....

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Roche, Josephine Aspinwall (02 December 1886–29 July 1976), social worker and New Deal administrator, was born in Neligh, Nebraska, the daughter of John J. Roche, a lawyer, banker, and mining executive, and Ella Aspinwall, a former teacher. Roche spent her childhood in Nebraska, where her father was a member of the state legislature. While Roche was at Vassar College, where she earned a B.A. in 1908, her parents moved to Denver, Colorado, which remained her hometown for much of the rest of her life. After working for a short while as a probation officer there, she returned east....

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Whitney, Charlotte Anita (07 July 1867–04 February 1955), social worker and political activist, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of George Whitney, an attorney and a California state legislator, and Mary Lewis Swearingen. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field was an uncle. Whitney’s socially prominent, affluent parents, who originally were from the East, sent her to Wellesley College in 1885. She graduated in 1889 with a B.S. degree but no clear vision of her future. After several unsettled years, in 1893 Whitney trained in the new profession of social work at the College Settlement in New York City. There, among New York City’s poor immigrants, she developed a firsthand understanding of class differences and poverty. Returning to California in 1893 Whitney taught in private schools and opened a Boy’s Club in the slums of West Oakland. For several years she worked as the first probation officer of Alameda County, California, and later was secretary of the Associated Charities of Oakland. Whitney’s commitment to racial justice and woman suffrage emerged in the years after 1910: she became a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and headed the California College Equal Suffrage League. When women won the vote in California, Whitney was instrumental in refashioning the league into the California Civic League, an organization through which women voters sought to make their influence felt....