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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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Frances Gage Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92766).

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Gage, Frances Dana Barker (12 October 1808–10 November 1884), reformer, lecturer, and author, was born on a farm in Union Township, Washington County, Ohio, the daughter of Joseph Barker and Elizabeth Dana, farmers. The rugged conditions of farm life bred in her a hardiness and resourcefulness that served her well as an adult....

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Gougar, Helen Mar Jackson (18 July 1843–06 June 1907), suffragist, temperance reformer, and lecturer, was born near Litchfield in Hillsdale County, Michigan, the daughter of William Jackson and Clarissa Dresser, farmers. After attending the preparatory department of Hillsdale College from 1855 to 1859, she moved to Lafayette, Indiana, to teach in the public schools in order to help support her family. There she joined the Second Presbyterian Church, where she met John D. Gougar, a promising young lawyer, whom she married in 1863. The couple, who had no children, made their home in Lafayette for the rest of their lives....

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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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Miller, Emily Clark Huntington (22 October 1833–02 November 1913), author, Methodist temperance worker, and educator, was born in Brooklyn, Connecticut, the daughter of Thomas Huntington, a physician and Baptist minister, and his second wife, Paulina Clark. Receiving her early education at local schools, she graduated from Oberlin College in 1857 and stayed on briefly to teach in the college. While at Oberlin she met John Edwin Miller, a graduate of the Oberlin Theological Institute and a teacher, whom she married in 1860; they had four children....

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Morgan, Agnes Fay (04 May 1884–20 July 1968), nutrition scientist and home economics administrator, was born Jane Agnes Fay in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Irish immigrants Patrick John Fay, a laborer and builder, and his second wife, Mary Josephine Dooley. Morgan graduated as an outstanding student from Peoria High School and with financial aid from a local citizen briefly attended Vassar College and then the University of Chicago, from which she received the B.S. (1904) and M.S. (1905) in chemistry....

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Norton, Alice Peloubet (25 February 1860–23 February 1928), home economics educator, was born Mary Alice Peloubet near Gloucester, Massachusetts, the daughters of Francis Nathan Peloubet, a Congregational minister, and Mary Abby Thaxter. During her youth the family moved to a succession of Massachusetts pastorates in Oakham, Attleboro, and Natick. Alice graduated from Smith College with an A.B. in 1882. In 1883 she married Lewis Mills Norton, a teacher of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)....

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Parloa, Maria (25 September 1843–21 August 1909), teacher of cooking and pioneer in home economics education, was born in Massachusetts; no records have been found of her parentage or exact place of birth. Orphaned in her youth, Parloa supported herself by working as a cook in private homes and as a pastry cook in several New Hampshire hotels, notably the Appledore House on the Isles of Shoals. In 1871, at the age of twenty-eight, she enrolled in the normal school of the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. The following year she published ...

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Richardson, Anna Euretta (05 September 1883–03 February 1931), home economist and educator, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of William H. Richardson and Euretta Miller. In 1887 the family moved to Summerville, South Carolina, where her father served as mayor for many years. In 1900 she graduated from the Memminger High and Normal School in Charleston and three years later received a B.S. from Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee. During the next few years, Richardson took graduate courses at the University of Chicago and Columbia University while teaching at secondary schools in Summerville and in Ocala, Florida. She earned an M.A. in nutrition from Columbia University in 1911....

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Roberts, Lydia Jane (30 June 1879–28 May 1965), home economics educator and nutritionist, was born in Hope Township, Barry County, Michigan, the daughter of Warren Roberts, a carpenter, and Mary McKibbin. She attended grade school and high school in Martin, Michigan. After graduating from high school (1898), Roberts obtained a Limited Teaching Certificate (qualification for teaching in only certain elementary schools) from Mt. Pleasant Normal School in 1899 and began teaching in rural Michigan. Her adventuresome nature led her to teaching positions in Miles City and Great Falls, Montana, before she returned to obtain her Life Certificate (qualification for teaching in all rural and urban schools) from Mt. Pleasant in 1909. She then taught third grade and served as a critic teacher, or supervisor of student teachers, in the local normal school in Dillon, Montana. Having observed a relationship between the health of her students and the quality of their diets, Roberts wanted to know more about the nutritional needs of children. To pursue this knowledge she entered the University of Chicago in 1915 at the age of thirty-six, ending her seventeen-year career as an elementary school teacher....

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Talbot, Marion (31 July 1858–20 October 1948), university administrator and home economics pioneer, was born in Thun, Switzerland, the daughter of Emily Fairbanks Talbot, a champion of women’s education, and Israel Tisdale Talbot, a proponent of homeopathic medicine and dean of the Boston University School of Medicine. Born in Switzerland while her parents were on vacation, she was raised in Boston. Growing up at a time when no college preparatory school was open to girls in Boston, Marion studied Greek and Latin with tutors, attended the private Chauncy Hall School and the nonclassical Girls’ High School, and studied modern languages in Europe. Though lacking some of the courses usually required for college entrance, she won acceptance to Boston University and graduated in 1880....

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White, Edna Noble (03 June 1879–04 May 1954), home economics and child development educator, was born in Fairmount, Illinois, the daughter of Alexander L. White, a prominent local businessman, and Angeline Noble. The second of three children, White grew up in comfortable surroundings with her older sister and younger brother. Her father was a teacher and later a hardware dealer in the small village of Fairmount. Her mother was educated although not professionally employed....

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Frances Willard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ61-790).

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Willard, Frances Elizabeth Caroline (28 September 1839–17 February 1898), educator and international temperance leader, was born in Churchville near Rochester, New York, the daughter of Josiah Willard, a businessman and farmer, and Mary Hill, a schoolteacher. When she was two her father sold his substantial farm and business interests and moved his family to Ohio, where both parents studied at Oberlin College. In 1846 the family moved to Wisconsin, where Frances spent the rest of her childhood on their large frontier farm near Janesville. Except for brief stints in rural schools, Willard was tutored by her mother until 1857, when she studied for a year at Milwaukee Female College (later Milwaukee-Downer College) and then at North Western Female College (later part of Northwestern University), receiving a “Laureatte of Science” in 1859. In 1861 she was engaged to ...

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Woolman, Mary Raphael Schenck (26 April 1860–01 August 1940), educator and author, was born in Camden, New Jersey, the daughter of Joseph Schenck, a physician, and Martha McKeen. As a child Mary Schenck lived a privileged life. Because her father was a leading doctor in the community—he was far ahead of his time in the use of prophylactic measures and modern medical surgical methods—she had access to his vast library, and after showing scholarly promise she was sent to a private Quaker school in Philadelphia that trained young women from upper-class families in many subjects, including domestic arts. In 1883–1884 she continued her education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied history and languages....