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Boker, George Henry (06 October 1823–02 January 1890), playwright and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Lydia Stewart and Charles S. Boker, a banker and merchant. Boker’s wealthy father provided him with an education at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and a lavish lifestyle, including extensive travel abroad, leaving the son free to pursue a career in letters and diplomacy without the usual economic worries that plagued writers. Boker’s only obligation was to study law, which he read in the office of ...

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Conrad, Robert Taylor (10 June 1810–27 June 1858), dramatist and mayor of Philadelphia, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Conrad, a publisher, and Eliza (maiden name unknown). Urged by his father, in 1831 Conrad became an attorney. But he found himself attracted more to journalism and literature than to the legal profession, and from 1831 to 1834 he worked for the ...

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Daggett, Rollin Mallory (22 February 1831–12 November 1901), journalist, congressman, minister to Hawaii, and author, was born in Richville, New York, the son of Eunice White and Gardner Daggett, farmers. Daggett was the youngest of seven children, the other six being girls. After his mother’s death in 1833, the family moved to Defiance, Ohio, in 1837. In 1849 Daggett became a printer, learning a trade which endowed him with an education and influenced his later choice of a journalistic career....

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Graham, Shirley (11 November 1896–27 March 1977), musical composer and director, author, and political activist, also known as Shirley Graham Du Bois, was born Lola Bell Graham in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of the Reverend David A. Graham, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and Etta Bell. She accompanied them when her father held pastorates in New Orleans, Colorado Springs, and Spokane. He delighted her with stories about important blacks in American history. In his churches, she learned to play the piano and the pipe organ and to conduct choirs. In 1914 she graduated from high school in Spokane, took business school courses, and worked in government offices in Spokane and Seattle. After she married Shadrach T. McCanns in 1921, she gave private music lessons and played the organ in white movie theaters, hidden backstage. She had two sons, Robert and David, and was either widowed in 1924 or obtained a divorce in 1929. (In many respects, biographical data concerning Graham are in dispute.)...

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Shirley Graham Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1946. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117469).

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Clare Boothe Luce Before her marriage to Henry Luce. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103652).

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Luce, Clare Boothe (10 April 1903–09 October 1987), writer and political figure, was born Ann Clare Boothe in New York City, the daughter of William F. Boothe, a businessman and pit-orchestra violinist, and Ann Clare Snyder, a former dancer. She spent her childhood in Chicago and Memphis and also lived for a year in France with her mother after her parents separated. She attended several private schools, including St. Mary’s in Garden City, Long Island, from 1915 to 1917, and then Miss Mason’s School in Tarrytown, New York, from which she graduated in 1919. As a child, Clare Boothe had briefly been an understudy to ...

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Noah, Mordecai Manuel (19 July 1785–22 March 1851), politician, playwright, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Manuel Mordecai Noah, a failed businessman, and Zipporah Phillips. He was orphaned at the age of seven and was raised by his grandparents Jonas and Rebecca (Machado) Phillips. In his youth, first in Philadelphia and later in Charleston, South Carolina, he published journalistic pieces, a political pamphlet, a critique of Shakespeare ( ...

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Robinson, Harriet Jane Hanson (08 February 1825–22 December 1911), textile mill worker, suffragist, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Hanson, a carpenter, and Harriet Browne. When Harriet was six, her father died. Her mother then ran a boarding house in Industrial Lowell, Massachusetts, with the help of her children....

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Sawyer, Lemuel, Jr. (1777–09 January 1852), congressman and author, was born in Camden County, North Carolina, the son of Lemuel Sawyer, Sr., a planter and merchant, and Mary Taylor. His father was prominent in local and state affairs, serving as sheriff and representing his county in both the provincial congress and the general assembly. After attending the local schools, young Sawyer studied at the Flatbush Academy on Long Island from 1793 to 1796. He spent a portion of 1796 in Philadelphia as a visitor in the home of his brother-in-law Congressman Dempsey Burgess. There he dabbled in the study of mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and acquired a lifelong habit of extravagant living....