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de Wolfe, Elsie (20 December 1865–12 July 1950), actress and interior decorator, was born in New York City, the daughter of Stephen de Wolfe, a physician, and Georgina Copeland. She was baptized Ella Anderson de Wolfe. Her father had been raised in Nova Scotia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania; her mother, also reared in Canada, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Elsie attended private schools in New York until the age of fourteen and was then sent to Scotland to finish her education under the tutelage of her mother’s cousin, Dr. Archibald Charteris. Owing to Charteris’s connection to royal circles, she was presented to Queen Victoria and London society at age seventeen, an unusual honor then for an American girl. This experience focused her vision of life on elegance, refinement, fashion, and good taste....

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Draper, Dorothy (22 November 1889–10 March 1969), interior decorator and columnist, was born in Tuxedo Park, New York, the daughter of Paul Tuckerman and Susan Minturn. She grew up in the environs of New York in an exclusive resort community where her parents were among the founding members in 1886. Educated primarily at home with a governess and tutor, her formal schooling was minimal, including two years at the Brearley School, a private girls’ school in New York City. Annual trips to Europe gave her a cosmopolitan exposure to the world, and she was presented at Sherry’s in 1907. Although she did not have any academic design training, her background and upbringing among the elite families of the Northeast contributed to her subsequent success as a decorator. She had complete confidence in her taste, and her social connections proved to be important in acquiring future clientele....

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Ray Eames. [left to right]Ray Eames and Charles Eames. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103825).

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Eames, Ray (15 December 1912–21 August 1988), designer and filmmaker, was born Ray Kaiser in Sacramento, California, the daughter of Alexander Kaiser, an insurance salesman, and Edna Mary Burr. In 1933, after graduating from the May Bennett School in Millbrook, New York, she began studying painting with Hans Hoffmann in New York City. She was a founding member of American Abstract Artists, which first exhibited as a group in 1937 in New York City....

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Krummeck, Elsie Caroline (5 Dec. 1913–29 May 1999), artist and industrial designer, was born in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants Karl Krummeck, a sign painter, and Katharina Friederich, a practical nurse. At a young age she demonstrated exceptional talent as an illustrator, and with encouragement from her parents she enrolled in art classes at Pratt Institute, the Art Students League of New York, and the National Academy Museum and School. Her peripatetic academic training ended with a year of study (...

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Tillinghast, Mary Elizabeth (31 December 1845–15 December 1912), artist and decorator, was born in New York City, the daughter of Phillip Tillinghast, a merchant, and Julia Anna Cozzens Titus. Around age nine, Tillinghast moved with her parents and six siblings from Manhattan to Orange, New Jersey. In 1867, following the birth of three more children, the family returned to New York. The Tillinghasts were wealthy and socially prominent; Mary was privately educated by a tutor at home. Her parents recognized her artistic proclivities and sent her abroad in 1872 for formal training. Tillinghast studied in Paris with Carolus-Duran and Jean Jacques Henner. She stayed there for six years, returning to New York in 1878....

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Wheeler, Candace Thurber (24 March 1827–05 August 1923), textile designer and interior decorator, was born in Delhi, New York, the daughter of Abner Thurber, a dairy farmer, and Lucy Dunham. Educated at home and at the Delaware Academy in Delhi, she married Thomas M. Wheeler, a shipowner, on 28 June 1844 and lived in Brooklyn and New York City most of her life....

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Whitman, Sarah de St. Prix Wyman (05 December 1842–25 June 1904), designer and fabricator of stained glass, bookcover designer, painter, and writer, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of William W. Wyman, a banker, and Sarah Amanda Treat of Boston. Immediately following her birth, in the wake of a financial scandal and legal trials involving her father, the family moved to Baltimore. The Wymans returned to Lowell in 1853, but throughout her life, Baltimore held a special place in Whitman’s heart, and she returned regularly to her childhood home for family visits and Christmas holidays....