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Andrews, Fannie Fern Phillips (25 September 1867–23 January 1950), pacifist and educational reformer, was born in Margaretville, Nova Scotia, the daughter of William Wallace Phillips, a shoemaker, and Anna Maria Brown, a church activist. Andrews grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts; she graduated from Salem Normal School in 1884 and taught school in Lynn between 1884 and 1890. In 1890 she married Edwin G. Andrews, a salesman in Lynn; they had no children. In 1895–1896 Andrews resumed her studies, at the Harvard summer school, and in 1902 she received her A.B. from Radcliffe in education and psychology....

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Barnes, Mary Downing Sheldon (15 September 1850–27 August 1898), educator, was born in Oswego, New York, the daughter of Edward Austin Sheldon, an educator, and Frances Anna Bradford Stiles. After completing her early education in the public schools of Oswego, she entered the Oswego Normal and Training School, where she finished the classical course in 1868 and the advanced course the following year. While at Oswego, Sheldon was greatly influenced by her father, who as principal of the school had molded the institution into a leading center of Pestalozzian-based education. Following graduation, she taught at the Normal and Training School in Oswego for two years before entering the sophomore class at the University of Michigan in September 1871. One of the first female students to attend the university, Sheldon was originally interested in the natural sciences. Having taken two history courses under Professor C. K. Adams, however, she was invited to teach Greek, Latin, and botany as well as history at the Normal and Training School upon her graduation in 1874. Denied the chance to teach her first love, physics, she “revenge[d] herself by applying scientific methods to history” (Barnes, quoted in Keohane, p. 68)....

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Blow, Susan Elizabeth (07 June 1843–?27 Mar. 1916), educational reformer, was born in Carondelet, a section of St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Henry Taylor Blow, a wealthy owner of lead-mining operations, president of the Iron Mountain Railroad, state senator, and minister to Venezuela and Brazil, and Minerva Grimsley, daughter of another prominent manufacturer and local politician. Susan Blow grew up in a large household and an environment of high German culture, business, and government affairs. Her extended family and social network included uncles, cousins, and business associates of her father who were involved in local, state, national, and international politics. Her grandfather Peter Blow had brought slaves with him from Virginia and Alabama. One of them was ...

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Clapp, Elsie Ripley (16 November 1879–28 July 1965), progressive educator and community school leader, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of William Clapp and Sarah Ripley. Her well-off family, then living in New York City’s fashionable Washington Square, sent her to Vassar College, 1899–1903. She transferred to Barnard College, Columbia University, where she received the B.A. degree in English in 1908. She also earned the M.A. degree in philosophy from Columbia University in 1909. She enrolled in a philosophy of education course under ...

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Cotten, Sallie Swepson Sims Southall (13 June 1846–04 May 1929), advocate of women's education and the women's club movement in North Carolina, advocate of women’s education and the women’s club movement in North Carolina, was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Southall and Susan Sims. Because of her father’s precarious fortunes as planter and hotelkeeper, she came to Murfreesboro, North Carolina, at the age of thirteen to live with her father’s wealthy cousin. She attended Wesleyan Female College and Greensboro Female College, graduating in 1863. While teaching in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in 1864, she met Robert Randolph Cotten, a Confederate cavalryman. They were married in 1866....

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Dennett, Mary Coffin Ware (04 April 1872–25 July 1947), birth control and sex education reformer and pacifist, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of George Whitefield, a wool merchant, and Livonia Coffin Ware. When Dennett was ten her father died and the family moved to Boston, where she attended public schools and went on to Miss Capen’s School for Girls in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dennett then studied at the school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where she displayed a great talent for tapestry and leather design. From 1894 to 1897 she headed the Department of Design and Decoration at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. After a trip to Europe with her sister, during which they collected gilded Cordovan leather wall hangings, the sisters opened a handicraft shop in Boston. Dennett helped organize the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts in 1897. She served on the council of the society until 1905, when her interest in politics and social welfare began to supersede her interest in the arts. In 1900 she married William Hartley Dennett, a Boston architect with whom she had two sons. The marriage ended in divorce in 1913 with Dennett receiving custody of their children....

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Dobbs, Ella Victoria (11 June 1866–13 April 1952), leader in elementary education and founder of the Department of Applied Arts at the University of Missouri, Columbia, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the daughter of Edward O’Hail Dobbs, a railroad employee, and Jane Jackson Forsythe. Ella’s mother, an invalid, died after a long illness when her daughter was only eight years old. Ella did not know her father well but developed a deep affection for her stepsister, who became a mother to her. A delicate child, Ella early had a desire to be a first-grade teacher. Ill health interrupted her schooling, but she supplemented her education with independent reading and extension courses....

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Fahs, Sophia Lyon (02 August 1876–17 April 1978), religious educator, was born in Hangchow, China, the daughter of David Nelson Lyon and Mandana Doolittle, missionaries. The Lyon family returned to the United States on furlough in 1880, and poor health kept Mr. Lyons from returning to China. Sophia grew up in Wooster, Ohio, where she attended public schools and graduated from the Presbyterian University of Wooster in 1897. After two years of teaching high school, she spent two years traveling for the Student Volunteer Movement in the interest of foreign missions. She also took Old and New Testament courses at the University of Chicago, where higher criticism was revolutionizing scriptural studies with its concentration on establishing dates, authorship, and sources of the biblical writings in the spirit of scientific analysis. Dr. ...

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Fuller, Sarah (15 February 1836–01 August 1927), educator and advocate for deaf children, was born in Weston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Hervey Fuller and Celynda Fiske, farmers. After receiving her early education in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts, Fuller attended the Allan English and Classical School of West Newton. ...

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Laura Drake Gill. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112012 ).

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Gill, Laura Drake (24 August 1860–03 February 1926), educational administrator and reformer, was born in Chesterville, Maine, the daughter of Elisha Gill and Hulda Capen. Following the death of her father in 1873, Gill’s maternal aunt, Bessie T. Capen, brought her to Northampton, Massachusetts, where she matriculated at Smith College, graduating in 1881 with a degree in mathematics. For the next seventeen years, Gill taught mathematics at her aunt’s school for girls. While teaching at Miss Capen’s School, she earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Smith College and in 1893 pursued additional graduate study at the Universities of Leipzig and Geneva and at the Sorbonne....

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Hallowell, Anna (01 November 1831–06 April 1905), civic leader and education reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Morris Longstreth Hallowell, a prominent Quaker merchant, and Hannah Smith Penrose. She was reared in a family that grappled with religious and social concerns. In 1827 Anna’s parents had allied themselves with the liberal Hicksite (“heterodox”) branch of the Society of Friends. Within their social circle were Hicksite activists like abolitionist ...

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Hunt, Mary Hannah Hanchett (04 June 1830–24 April 1906), temperance educator, was born in South Canaan, Connecticut, the daughter of Ephraim Hanchett, an ironworker, and Nancy Swift. She attended area schools before enrolling in Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City, Maryland, in 1848. After her graduation in 1851, she taught natural sciences at the school alongside its principal, ...

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Huntington, Emily (03 January 1841–05 December 1909), educational innovator, was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, the daughter of Dan Huntington, a dry-goods merchant, and Emily Wilson. In 1842 her family moved to Norwich, Connecticut, where she lived until 1872 except for 1856–1858, when she attended Wheaton Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts. Starting in 1859 she took an active part in the mission established by the Second Congregational Church to help the poor in Norwich....

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Kraus-Boelté, Maria (08 November 1836–01 November 1918), educational reformer, was born in the town of Hagenow in the North German province of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the daughter of Johann Ludwig Ernst Boelte, a lawyer, judge, and local magistrate, and Louise Ehlers, also a member of a family with a tradition of public service. The household was rich, prominent, and cultivated. Maria’s interest in progressive educational methods was probably stimulated in part by the unusually egalitarian atmosphere of her home, which acquaintances called the “little republic.” Boelté (the accent was probably added to facilitate English-speakers with the pronunciation) was first educated at home by a local clergyman and also learned music from her mother. Later she attended two private girls’ schools. At eighteen she was confirmed and presented to society. Her favorite free-time occupation was charitable work with the local village children....

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Laws, Annie (20 January 1855–01 July 1927), woman's club leader and education reformer, woman’s club leader and education reformer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of James Hedding Laws, a businessman, and Sarah Amelia Langdon. She was educated in Cincinnati’s public schools and at Miss Appleton’s School for Girls. She also received private instruction in music, art, and literature....

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Malkiel, Theresa Serber (01 May 1874–17 November 1949), trade union leader, woman suffragist, publicist, and educator, was born in Bar, Russia. In 1891 she emigrated with her parents to the United States.

Soon after her arrival, Theresa Serber became a pioneer in the Jewish workers’ movement and socialist labor agitation in New York City. Employed in the garment industry, she joined the Russian Workingmen’s Club in 1892. In October 1894 she was among a group of seventy women who founded the Infant Cloak Makers Union (ICMU). Although it was a depression year, she and her associates decided not to accept wage cuts and deteriorating labor conditions any longer. Their action was front-page news. Eventually the ICMU became part of the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance. In 1896, Serber was among the delegates to the first convention of the latter alliance; in 1899, along with many others, she broke with labor leader ...

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Marwedel, Emma Jacobina Christiana (27 February 1818–17 November 1893), kindergarten reformer, was born in Münden, in the Kingdom of Hanover (now Germany), the daughter of Heinrich Ludwig Marwedel, a district assistant judge, and Jacobina Carolina Christiana Brokmann. Little is known of Marwedel’s early life. Both of her parents died during her youth; the death of her mother left her with the task of caring for her younger brothers and sisters. The death of her father gave her the additional responsibility for earning her own living. Details of her schooling are not known, but she seems to have been chiefly self-educated....

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Mitchell, Lucy Sprague (02 July 1878–15 October 1967), educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Otho Sprague and Lucia Atwood. Migrating from Vermont to Chicago with his young bride shortly after the Civil War, Otho Sprague and an older brother had opened a dry goods business that soon became the largest wholesale grocery in the world. Members of Chicago’s merchant elite, the Sprague brothers helped established many of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions; they were among the benefactors of Hull-House, the settlement led by ...

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Parkhurst, Helen (07 March 1887–01 June 1973), educator and founder of the Dalton School, was born in Durand, Wisconsin, the daughter of James Henry Parkhurst, an innkeeper and civic leader, and Ida Smallet Underwood, a teacher. Educated in primary and secondary schools in Durand, Parkhurst received her B.S. degree from the River Falls Normal School at Wisconsin State College, graduating in 1907 with the highest professional honors awarded up to that time. She had begun her teaching career three years before in a rural one-room school house in Pepin County, Wisconsin. It was there, faced with the task of teaching forty farm boys of all ages, that Parkhurst began to formulate the system of education that would develop into the Dalton Laboratory Plan. After graduation, she taught, from 1909 to 1910, at the Edison School in Tacoma, Washington, where she continued to develop the outlines of her progressive educational method....