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Gruenberg, Sidonie Matsner (10 June 1881–11 March 1974), educator of parents, writer, and authority on children, was born near Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Idore Matzner, a failed merchant, and Augusta Olivia Besseches, who later was the U.S. partner in a rubber-importing company. In 1888 Sidonie and her family moved to Philadelphia but returned to Austria within a year, only to have her father leave again for the United States in 1893. Sidonie and her mother and siblings joined him in New York City in 1895 after spending a year and a half in Hamburg, Germany, where she attended the Höhere Töchterschule. After a few months of public school in Manhattan, Sidonie in early 1896 entered the Society for Ethical Culture’s Workingman’s School and gave the valedictory speech when she graduated from its eighth grade in 1897. Because a stroke had partially paralyzed her father, she took a secretarial job to help her family financially. In 1903 she married Benjamin Charles Gruenberg, a young chemist who the year before began teaching biology at DeWitt Clinton High School; they had four children. Their marriage was a true partnership, providing them both the stimulus for growth and the opportunity to collaborate as writers and experts in the field of child study....

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Taft, Jessie (24 June 1882–07 June 1960), sociologist, social worker, and educator, was born Julia Taft in Dubuque, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Chester Taft and Amanda May Farwell. Her parents came from Vermont but moved to rural Iowa, where her father became a prosperous merchant. Her mother was deaf, and this disability plus personality differences created a barrier between them. Jessie enjoyed school and music, graduating from West Des Moines High School, and independently chose to become a Unitarian....

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Thomas, Dorothy Swaine (24 October 1899–01 May 1977), sociologist and educator, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of John Knight Thomas, a salesman, and Sarah Elizabeth Swaine. Her father left the family when Dorothy was twelve, and her mother began work as a paid companion. Thomas then lived with an uncle she did not particularly like and took refuge in voracious reading. She enjoyed and excelled in school. As a senior, she won a citywide essay contest and a scholarship to a local college. After she unwittingly broke a school rule, however, the high school authorities decided that she could not graduate or receive her award. Seeking other funds for college, she applied for and was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College, where her intellectual career flourished....