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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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Anderson, Margaret (24 November 1886–19 October 1973), editor and author, was born Margaret Carolyn Anderson in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of Arthur Aubrey Anderson and Jessie Shortridge. Anderson’s father was a railway executive who provided a comfortable middle-class existence for his wife and three daughters. Anderson, whose chief interest as a young woman was music and literature, was soon regarded as the rebel of the family. After three years at Western College for Women in Ohio, she dropped out and made her way to Chicago, hoping to find work as a writer. After various stints as a bookstore clerk, print assistant, and part-time critic, Anderson decided to start her own literary journal. With little money but a great deal of enthusiasm and support from friends, Anderson founded the avant-garde ...

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Bates, Daisy (11 November 1914–04 November 1999), civil rights activist, newspaper founder and publisher, was born Daisy Lee Gatson in Huttig, Arkansas. Her biological father and mother, reputedly John Gatson and Millie Riley, remain shrouded in mystery, and scholars have been unable to find evidence confirming her parentage. (Thus, her reported birth date varies: the one given here is widely acknowledged.) Bates grew up hearing that several white men had raped and murdered her mother and thrown the body in a pond. Leaving his infant daughter in the care of friends Orlee and Susie Smith, who became her foster parents, her father abandoned her, never to return. This was Bates's baptism into the poverty, insecurity, and racial violence that segregation fostered....

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Blair, Eliza Violet Gist (1794–05 July 1877), newspaperwoman and political hostess, was born in either Virginia or in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the daughter of Nathaniel Gist, an Indian agent and planter, and Judith Cary Bell. Eliza’s father died in 1797, and a decade later her mother married ...

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Bly, Nellie (05 May 1864–27 January 1922), reporter and manufacturer, was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael Cochran, a mill owner and associate justice of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and Mary Jane Kennedy Cummings. Judge Cochran, the father of fifteen children by two wives, died suddenly without a will in 1870, leaving Mary Jane with little money. Mary Jane’s abusive third marriage to John Jackson Ford ended in divorce in 1878, and “Pink,” as Elizabeth Jane was known, at age fifteen, went off to Indiana (Pa.) Normal School, adding a final ...

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Bourke-White, Margaret (14 June 1904–27 August 1971), pioneer photojournalist and industrial photographer, was born in New York City, the daughter of Joseph Edward White, an amateur photographer and an engineer and inventor for a printing press manufacturer, and Minnie Bourke, a teacher. Originally using the name Margaret White, she added her mother’s maiden name in 1927....

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Brothers, Joyce (20 October 1927–13 May 2013), psychologist, television and radio personality, and columnist, was born Joyce Diane Bauer in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris K. Bauer and Estelle Rappaport Bauer, a Jewish couple who shared a law practice. She and sister, Elaine, were raised in Queens, where Joyce was an honors student at Far Rockaway High School....

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Brown, Helen Gurley (18 February 1922–13 August 2012), author, editor, and advice-giver, was born Helen Marie Gurley in Green Forest, Arkansas, the younger of two daughters of Ira Gurley, a schoolteacher, and Cleo Sisco Gurley. When Ira was elected to the state legislature, the family moved to Little Rock. When Helen was ten years old, her father died in a tragic elevator accident in the state house, and her mother was left to support the family. Cleo struggled to raise her daughters in the midst of the Great Depression, and after a few years, in search of greater opportunity, she moved the family to Los Angeles. When Helen’s sister, Mary, contracted polio just a few months later, Helen assumed a significant financial role in the family, one she would maintain for many years....

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Day, Dorothy (08 November 1897–29 November 1980), founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Day, a newspaperman, and Grace Satterlee. Her father was a frustrated novelist and horseracing writer whose work took the family to Oakland and Chicago. While in Chicago, Day won a scholarship to the University of Illinois in 1914. She dropped out after two years to return to New York with her family, but she had become a socialist in college and was soon estranged from her father. She lived on the Lower East Side, where she wrote for the ...

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Fern, Fanny (09 July 1811–10 October 1872), newspaper columnist and novelist, was born Sarah Payson Willis in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Hannah Parker and Nathaniel Willis, a printer and founder of the first periodical for children.

Although the beautiful and high-spirited Fern rebelled against her father’s grim Calvinistic creed, she was passionately attached to her mother, who she believed had imbued her with talent. At a time when colleges were not open to women, Fern received as close to a college education as was available from the Hartford Female Seminary. In May 1837 Fern married Charles Harrington Eldredge, a cashier at the Merchant’s Bank of Boston. They had three children....

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Flanner, Janet (13 March 1892–07 November 1978), journalist, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of Frank W. Flanner, a funeral director and philanthropist (founder of Flanner House, a settlement house), and Mary Ellen Hockett, a retired teacher and amateur actress. She attended the University of Chicago for two years (1912–1914) without graduating and then married William Lane Rehm in 1918 after a short period working on the ...

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Heap, Jane (01 November 1883–16 June 1964), artist and editor, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of George Heap, an engineer, and Emma (maiden name unknown). Interested in art from an early age, Heap attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1901 until 1905 and later studied mural design in Germany. By the century’s second decade Chicago was in the midst of a “Renaissance” in art and literature. Writers and artists influenced by Nietzsche, Shaw, Picasso, and Gauguin attacked the straitlaced conservatism of the Victorian genteel tradition. Young midwesterners with artistic aspirations traveled to Chicago where they embraced and expressed an American modernism that owed much to European philosophies. Heap was among them....

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Kathleen Kearney Keeshen

Higgins, Marguerite (03 September 1920–03 January 1966), journalist, was born in Hong Kong, the daughter of Lawrence Daniel Higgins, an Irish-American freight company agent, and Marguerite Godard, a Frenchwoman. In 1923 her father became a stockbroker in Oakland, California, where the family settled. In 1937 she graduated from Oakland’s exclusive Anna Head School and in 1941, from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor of science degree in French, with honors. Awarded a master of science degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1942, she joined the ...

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Hobby, Oveta Culp (19 January 1905–16 August 1995), publisher and government official, was born Oveta Culp in Killeen, Texas, the daughter of Isaac William Culp, a lawyer, and Emma Hoover Culp. As a child, Oveta was close to her father and with his encouragement developed an early interest in law. She was educated in the local schools as well as tutored at home, and after graduation from high school she studied at Mary Hardin Baylor College in Belton, Texas, and at the University of Texas Law School in Austin. As a law student she became parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives, serving in that post from 1925 until 1931 and later from 1939 to 1941. In her early twenties she also served as a legal clerk in the Texas State Banking Department, and in that capacity she helped to codify Texas banking laws. In addition, in 1930 she served as an assistant to the Houston city attorney....

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Hopper, Hedda (02 May 1885–01 February 1966), actress and gossip columnist, was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of David E. Furry, a butcher, and Margaret Miller. The fifth of nine children, Hopper attended school until the eighth grade, after which she stayed home to help her mother with the household. She had an early driving desire to be on the stage, spurred by seeing ...

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Huck, Winnifred Sprague Mason (14 September 1882–24 August 1936), congresswoman and journalist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of William Ernest Mason, an attorney, state legislator, and, later, congressman and U.S. senator, and Edith Julia White. After attending public schools in Chicago and Washington, D.C., she graduated from Central High School in the nation’s capital. In 1904 she married Robert Wardlow Huck, a steel company executive. The mother of four children, Winnifred Huck played an active role in Chicago’s social community....

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Landers, Ann (04 July 1918–22 June 2002), syndicated columnist, was the pen name of Esther Pauline Lederer, who was born in Sioux City, Iowa, to Abraham B. Friedman, a peddler, and Rebecca Rushall. Her parents, Jews who had fled persecution in Russia, had immigrated to the United States ten years earlier. Beginning as a chicken peddler, Abraham Friedman, an astute businessman, saw an opportunity to make money in the up‐and‐coming movie industry and became an exhibitor and distributor. He eventually owned a chain of theaters in three midwestern states and became one of the first movie‐house operators to sell popcorn. In later life Eppie, as Esther was affectionately nicknamed, often said that her stable midwestern upbringing provided her with the basis for a happy life....

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Lane, Rose Wilder (05 December 1886–30 October 1968), a popular magazine writer, novelist, children's author, and noted libertarian thinker, was born near De Smet in the Dakota Territory (later South Dakota), the only surviving child of the homesteaders Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder. During Rose's early childhood the family struggled to make a living as pioneers, traveling in a covered wagon throughout the Midwest before finally settling in Mansfield, Missouri, when Rose was eight. Rose's childhood was marked by poverty and the uncertainty of frontier life. She was ostracized by classmates for her shabby clothes and her worn shoes, and she worried constantly about burdening her parents. Among her most charged and symbolic early memories was a house fire that destroyed the family's home and possessions. Young Rose had started the fire to assist her ailing mother on her sickbed, and she would blame herself for the tragedy well into adulthood. Despite these difficulties Lane would later valorize the pioneer experience as a source of fundamental American values—including hard work, stoicism, and mutual aid—that were threatened by the modern welfare state....

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Lape, Esther Everett (8 Oct. 1881–17 May 1981), journalist, World Court advocate, and medical care activist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Henry Lape and Esther E. Butler, both Quakers. Receiving her primary and secondary education in public schools in Philadelphia, she attended Bryn Mawr College on a scholarship but transferred to Wellesley College where she received a bachelor’s degree in ...

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Loeb, Sophie Irene Simon (04 July 1876–18 January 1929), author, journalist, and welfare worker, was born in Rovno, Russia, the daughter of Samuel Simon, a jeweler, and Mary Carey. Both of her parents were Jewish. Loeb emigrated to the United States with her family at the age of six; they settled in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Upon the death of her father ten years later, she began part-time work in a local store while finishing high school. Sophie was teaching grade school when in 1896, at the age of nineteen, she married Anselm Loeb, an older man who owned the store where she had worked. She stopped teaching and lived the life of a middle-class married woman, concentrating on entertaining, music, art, and poetry. She wrote epigrams, which she later published, and sympathetic essays about the poor. Unhappy with her married life, and seeking to serve society, Loeb obtained a divorce in 1910 and moved to New York City....