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Kay Boyle. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113309).

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Boyle, Kay (19 February 1902–27 December 1992), writer, educator, and political activist, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Howard Peterson Boyle, a lawyer, and Katherine Evans, a literary and social activist. Her grandfather had founded the West Publishing Company, and the financial security afforded by this background allowed the Boyle family to travel extensively. Boyle’s education was sporadic, culminating in two years of architecture classes at the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute (1917–1919). In 1922 Boyle joined her sister Joan in New York City, where she began to work for ...

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Dean, Vera Micheles (29 March 1903–10 October 1972), international affairs specialist and teacher, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, the daughter of Alexander Micheles, a Russian of German-Jewish background who immigrated to the United States in 1888 and later returned to Russia as a sales representative for the U.S.-based Gillette Company, and Nadine Kadisch, a translator of English novels into Russian. Growing up in Russia, the Micheles children received private tutoring and became fluent in seven languages. After the 1917 revolution, the family had to move to London for political reasons, and Vera was sent to Boston. There she attended business school, worked briefly as a stenographer, and then enrolled at Radcliffe College. After graduating with distinction in 1925, she earned an M.A. from Yale University. In 1928 she received her Ph.D. from Radcliffe in international law and international relations and became a U.S. citizen....

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Elliott, Harriet Wiseman (10 July 1884–06 August 1947), educator, political organizer, and government official, was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the daughter of Allan Curtis Elliott, a merchant who extended easy credit to poor coal miners, and Elizabeth Ann White, a staunch supporter of ...

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Gildersleeve, Virginia Crocheron (03 October 1877–07 July 1965), college administrator and international affairs expert, was born in New York City, the daughter of Henry Alger Gildersleeve, a judge, and Virginia Crocheron. She received her early education at home and was affected by such experiences as attending court with her father and visiting the Columbia University library. The death of her much-loved brother, Harry, Jr., when she was fourteen devastated her. In part to distract her from her grief, her parents enrolled her in New York City’s exclusive Brearley School....

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Le Sueur, Marian (02 August 1877–26 January 1954), teacher and radical politician, was born Marian Lucy in Bedford, Iowa, the daughter of (first name unknown) Lucy, a lawyer, and Antoinette McGovern. Le Sueur’s parents apparently had nontraditional views and strong streaks of independence. Her father reportedly fled home for long periods preceding the birth of each child. Her mother eventually reared the children alone, going west in 1899 to claim land in Oklahoma, where she built a house and became a temperance leader....

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Tenayuca, Emma (21 December 1916–23 July 1999), labor organizer, community activist, school teacher, was born in San Antonio, Texas, the first daughter of eleven children born to Sam Tenayuca and Benita Hernandez Zepeda. Her parents had eleven children and to relieve their economic burden, the maternal grandparents raised some of the children, including Emma. Her grandfather worked as a carpenter and followed politics. Tenayuca developed an early understanding of transnational politics when, at age seven, she was taken to the ...