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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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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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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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Stone, Lucinda Hinsdale (30 September 1814–14 March 1900), educational reformer, was born in Hinesburg, Vermont, the daughter of Lucinda Mitchell and Aaron Hinsdale, and cousin to two other educational pioneers, Emma Willard and astronomer Maria Mitchell. Her father, a freethinking renegade from the local Congregational church who owned a woolen mill on 260 acres, died before Lucinda’s second birthday. Lucinda was shaped both by the family’s intellectual and political progressivism and by her mother’s deep regret for her own lack of educational opportunity. At age three Lucinda was sent to the district school, and at thirteen she entered the coeducational Hinesburg Academy. She was introduced to her future profession when, at fifteen, she was asked to teach a summer school. She briefly attended Mrs. Cook’s Female Seminary in Middlebury but, rapidly disenchanted by its traditional female curriculum, returned to the academy an adamant advocate of coeducation: “I felt I knew things in a different way from that in which the seminary girls knew them. I had been better, more thoroughly and broadly taught in our academy with young men and young women in the same classes” (“Club Talks,” 1891). At once the beneficiary and a sharp critic of the best education available to an American girl of her era, she took from the academy “an irrepressible desire for the higher, more thorough, college education for women, which should cure the affectation and pettiness of school girls,—in short, give them something worthy to live for and to do for others” (Perry, p. 30)....

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Talbot, Emily Fairbanks (22 February 1834–29 October 1900), philanthropist and promoter of higher education for women, was born in Winthrop, Maine, the daughter of Columbus Fairbanks and Lydia Tinkham, farmers. Emily attended local schools, and her mother supplemented her lessons. At age sixteen Talbot began teaching school in Augusta, Maine; she wished for a college education, but few women of the time had access to that....

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Tutwiler, Julia Strudwick (15 August 1841–24 March 1916), educator, reformer, and humanitarian, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The daughter of Henry Tutwiler and Julia Ashe, she grew up in a home devoted to education, which became her lifework. Her father had earned a master’s degree in foreign languages at the University of Virginia and had accepted a position as the first professor of ancient languages at the University of Alabama when it had opened in 1831. Resigning in 1837 because of a financial dispute, he established Greene Springs Academy in Havana, south of Tuscaloosa. His daughters studied Latin, science, and mathematics with boys, upsetting many citizens. Tutwiler and her father taught slaves and poor white children to read. This experience influenced her to devote her life to serving others. Many of her classmates gained prominent positions as adults and supported her causes....

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Valentine, Lila Hardaway Meade (04 February 1865–14 July 1921), proponent of public schools, public health, and woman suffrage, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of Richard Hardaway Meade, a businessman, and Kate Fontaine. Largely self-taught, she read widely. She married Benjamin Batchelder Valentine, a poet and businessman, in 1886. Beginning in 1888, with major surgery after the stillbirth of their only child, her physical health remained always precarious....

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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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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....