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Addams, Jane (06 September 1860–21 May 1935), social reformer and peace activist, was the daughter of John Huy Addams, a businessman and Republican politician, and Sarah Weber. Born on the eve of the Civil War in the small farming community of Cedarville, just outside Freeport, in northern Illinois, she was the youngest of five children, four of whom were girls. Her mother died during pregnancy when Jane was two years old. The Addams family was the wealthiest, most respected family in the community. Jane’s father owned the local grain mill, was president of the Second National Bank of Freeport, had interests in a local railroad and a local insurance company, taught Sunday School, and was active in local Bible societies. A founding member of the Republican party and supporter of ...

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Balch, Emily Greene (08 January 1867–09 January 1961), peace activist, sociologist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the daughter of Francis Vergnies Balch, a lawyer, and Ellen Maria Noyes. She was in the first graduating class at Bryn Mawr College, earning her degree in 1889. After studying privately for a year with sociologist ...

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Bok, Edward William (09 October 1863–09 January 1930), editor, philanthropist, and peace advocate, was born in den Helder, Holland, the son of William John Hidde Bok and Sieke Gertrude van Herwerden, who, having lost their inherited fortune through unwise investments, immigrated to the United States in 1870. They settled in Brooklyn, where Bok and his older brother learned English in public school. With his father at first unable to find steady employment, Bok delivered newspapers, worked in a bakery, and wrote up childrens’ parties for the ...

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Bunche, Ralph Johnson (07 August 1904–09 December 1971), scholar and diplomat, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family’s last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in political science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California at Los Angeles or UCLA). He graduated summa cum laude and served as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his M.A. in 1928, then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his Ph.D. at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris; they had three children. Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching his dissertation and received his Ph.D. from Harvard in February 1934....

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Catt, Carrie Chapman (09 February 1859–09 March 1947), suffragist leader and peace activist, was born Carrie Clinton Lane in Ripon, Wisconsin, the daughter of Lucius Lane and Maria Clinton, farmers. In 1866 the family moved to a farm outside Charles City, Iowa, and Carrie thereafter identified herself as an Iowan. She was graduated from Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1880 with a B.S. She was a feminist long before she knew the word; at thirteen she was indignant when she realized that her mother could not vote in the presidential election. At college she organized a debate on woman suffrage and broke tradition by joining a public-speaking society. After graduation she read law for a year, then taught high school in Mason City, Iowa. She soon became the school’s principal as well as the superintendent of schools. In these posts she developed her organizational and administrative talents. They were the keystones to her success as a leader of women for the next sixty years....

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Fulbright, J. William (09 April 1905–09 February 1995), educator, U.S. senator, and Vietnam-era dissenter, was born James William Fulbright in Sumner, Missouri, the son of Jay Fulbright, a banker, and Roberta Waugh. When he was three years of age, the family moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. In the years that followed Jay Fulbright became one of the community’s leading bankers, while Roberta Fulbright attended to family affairs and built a network of friends centering on the University of Arkansas. Her parlor became a salon that included economists, historians, literary critics, local lawyers, physicians, and politicians. “Bill” Fulbright enjoyed a secure if somewhat sheltered childhood amid the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. He attended the University of Arkansas from the time he enrolled in the experimental kindergarten run by the College of Education until his graduation with a bachelor of arts degree in 1924. His father died suddenly in 1923, and his mother took over management of the family businesses....

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Ginsberg, Allen (03 June 1926–06 April 1997), poet, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the younger son of Louis Ginsberg, a high school English teacher and and Naomi Levy Ginsberg. Ginsberg grew up with his older brother Eugene in a household shadowed by his mother's mental illness; she suffered from recurrent epileptic seizures and paranoia. An active member of the Communist Party–USA, Naomi Ginsberg took her sons to meetings of the radical left dedicated to the cause of international Communism during the Great Depression of the 1930s....

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Grimké, Thomas Smith (26 September 1786–12 October 1834), lawyer, educational and peace reformer, politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the second son of John Faucheraud Grimké and Mary Smith Grimké. John Grimké, a native Charlestonian of French Huguenot stock, was educated at the University of Cambridge, an officer in the American Revolution, and head justice of the state’s Court of Appeals. Mary Grimké, a descendant of an English landgrave, the state’s founding aristocracy, and the famous Irish rebel leader Rory O’Moore, was a co-founder of Charleston’s female benevolent society. Other children included ...

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Holmes, John Haynes (29 November 1879–03 April 1964), Unitarian and later independent minister and a leading advocate of pacifism, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Marcus M. Holmes, a businessman, and Alice Haynes. Holmes was educated at Harvard College (A.B. 1902) and Harvard Divinity School (S.T.B. 1904) and entered the Unitarian ministry, holding early pastorates at Danvers (1902–1904) and Dorchester (1904–1907), Massachusetts, before moving in 1907 to the Church of the Messiah in New York City, where his influence as a minister dedicated to social reform began to be felt. In 1904 he married Madeleine Baker, with whom he had two children....

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Reyher, Rebecca Hourwich (21 January 1897–9 January 1987), suffragist, pacifist, and author, was born Rebecca Hourwich in New York City. She was the daughter of Isaac Hourwich, a Russian attorney who immigrated to the United States during the early 1890s and became a prominent economist and presidential advisor, and Lisa Jaffe Hourwich, who came to the United States with her family from Ukraine at the age of twenty-six and attended law school but never practiced law, a frustration that Hourwich noted as a girl growing up in Washington, D.C. The family was Jewish, though they all identified as secular agnostics....

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Woolley, Mary Emma (13 July 1863–05 September 1947), educator, feminist, and peace activist, was born in South Norwalk, Connecticut, the daughter of Joseph Judah Woolley, a Congregational minister, and his second wife, Mary Augusta Ferris. May, as she was called, spent a happy, nurturing childhood in New England, first in Meriden, Connecticut, and then, beginning in 1871, at her father’s new pastorate in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Reverend Woolley’s attempts to combine religious and social work—whether in reaching out to factory workers or in challenging St. Paul’s injunction of silence for women—profoundly influenced his daughter....