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Coman, Katharine (23 November 1857–11 January 1915), economic historian and social reformer, was born in Newark, Ohio, the daughter of Levi Parsons Coman and Martha Seymour. An abolitionist and leader of a voluntary group serving in the Civil War, Katharine’s father held various occupations, including those of teacher, storekeeper, and lawyer. Because of poor health he moved his family to a farm near Hanover, Ohio, after the Civil War. Both of Katharine’s parents had college degrees, her father from Hamilton College and her mother from an Ohio seminary. Consequently, they sought good educations for all their children, male and female alike. As a young girl, Katharine took lessons in Latin and mathematics along with her brothers. She first attended Steubenville Female Seminary, but when the school refused to give her more challenging studies, Levi Coman moved his daughter to the high school of the University of Michigan. She later entered the university and received a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1880....

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Drinker, Sophie Lewis Hutchinson (24 August 1888–06 September 1967), feminist and amateur historian, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Sydney Pemberton Hutchinson, a business executive, and Amy Lewis. As a dedicated student of history in later life, she took pride in the fact that the Hutchinson family had played a prominent role in the Philadelphia area since colonial times. While not conspicuously wealthy, the family was socially prominent and considered to represent “blue blood.” Drinker’s education was completed at St. Timothy’s School in Catonsville, Maryland, from which she graduated in 1906; she enjoyed her school years, and her historical studies there provided inspiration for her later work as a historian of women....

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Flexner, Eleanor (04 October 1908–25 March 1995), historian, feminist, and labor activist, was born in New York City, the second of two daughters of Abraham Flexner and Anne Crawford Flexner. Abraham was a prominent author and innovator in education reform who founded the Lincoln School at Teachers College of Columbia University and established the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Anne earned fame and fortune for her Broadway-produced play ...

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Ware, Caroline Farrar (14 August 1899–05 April 1990), historian, consumer activist, and expert on community development, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the daughter of Henry Ware, a lawyer, and Louisa Farrar Wilson. Ware came from a prominent Unitarian family with an activist tradition. Her abolitionist grandfather and great aunt participated in the Port Royal experiment after the Union occupation of the Sea Islands of South Carolina in November 1861. Charles Ware served as a labor superintendent of cotton plantations, while his sister, Harriet Ware, taught in a school for freedmen and women. Her parents were active in community affairs. Her father served as the treasurer of many voluntary organizations; her mother taught Sunday school and did volunteer work for the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts....

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Emma Hart Willard. Brown-toned platinum print, c. 1900. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Dr. and Mrs. R. Ted Steinbock.

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Willard, Emma Hart (23 February 1787–15 April 1870), educator and historian, was born in Berlin, Connecticut, the daughter of Samuel Hart and Lydia Hinsdale, farmers. She attended a district school and a new academy in Berlin, then two schools in Hartford to study art and fine needlework. Her father, a Jeffersonian and a Universalist, introduced her to dissent and began her education in philosophy. She also found mentors outside the family....

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Wright, Muriel Hazel (31 March 1889–27 February 1975), historian and Choctaw activist, was born in Lehigh, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, the daughter of Eliphalet Nott Wright, a doctor, and Ida Belle Richards, a Presbyterian missionary teacher. Wright’s one-fourth Choctaw descent was through her paternal grandfather, the Reverend Allen Wright, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation from 1866 to 1870, who proposed the name of Oklahoma for Indian Territory. Her father practiced medicine in the Choctaw Nation and served as company physician for the Missouri-Pacific Coal Mines. Throughout Wright’s youth, her father held several influential positions as a Choctaw delegate to the U.S. government during the allotment and disposition of Indian lands and the abolition of tribal governments prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1907....