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Garrett, Mary Smith (20 June 1839–18 July 1925), educator of deaf children and child welfare advocate, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Garrett, a prominent Philadelphia businessman, and Caroline Rush Cole. Little is known of Garrett’s early life. She began a lifelong career in deaf education in 1881 when she was hired by the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb to teach at the recently established “Oral Branch” (a separate campus where sign language was prohibited). Her younger sister, Emma Garrett, was the head teacher at the time. Mary Garrett had had no formal training in deaf education; her sister however, instructed her in the teaching methods she had learned from ...

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McMillan, Enolia (20 October 1904–24 October 2006), educator and civil rights activist, was born Enolia Virginia Pettigan in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest of four children born to former slave John Pettigan and domestic worker Elizabeth Fortune. Her family moved to Cecil County, Maryland in 1912 after her father bought a small farm. She graduated from Baltimore’s Douglass High School in 1922. She was recipient of the first scholarship from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and attended Howard University, a traditionally black college in Washington, D.C., and graduated with a bachelor of arts in education in 1927....

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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....