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Marvin, Cornelia (26 December 1873–13 February 1957), librarian and social reformer, was born in Monticello, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Elwell Marvin and Cornelia Moody. Her father’s business failure and her mother’s tuberculosis led the family to relocate in Tacoma, Washington, where she completed her secondary education in 1891. In 1893, a year after her mother’s death, Marvin moved to Chicago and became a “mother’s helper” while she took extension courses through the University of Chicago. A motivated student, Marvin confided to her sister: “I am afraid I worship ‘culture’—and ‘knowledge’ combined as much as some do money.” Although she dreamed of becoming a literary critic or dramatist, Marvin, who “resolved to be a bachelor so I won’t have a family to rear,” felt obliged to assist her siblings while they attended college. By September 1894, Marvin had persuaded her father to provide the $500 she needed to attend the recently established Library School at the Armour Institute of Technology. She envisioned library school as a way to enter the work force quickly, earn money to help her siblings, and then pay for her own college education....

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Stantial, Edna Lamprey (22 Feb. 1897–10 Mar. 1985), suffragist, archivist of the women’s suffrage movement, and women’s rights activist, was born Edna Frances Lamprey in Reading, Massachusetts, the daughter of Frank and Mollie McClelland Stantial. She grew up in nearby Melrose, graduated from Melrose High School in ...

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Wesley, Dorothy Porter (25 May 1905–17 December 1995), librarian and African-American historiographer, was born Dorothy Louise Burnett in Warrenton, Virginia, the daughter of Hayes J. Burnett, a physician, and Bertha (Ball) Burnett, a tennis player who was instrumental in the establishment of the New Jersey Tennis Association. She grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Montclair, New Jersey, where she attended racially mixed public schools. Upon completing high school she enrolled at Miner Normal School (later Miner Teachers College, which became part of the University of the District of Columbia) in 1923. While there a developing love of books led her away from a teaching career toward her ultimate life's work, beginning with a yearlong stint filling in for a librarian on sick leave at Miner in 1925. Realizing that she needed a college degree, she enrolled at nearby Howard University and earned a B.A. in 1928....