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Abbott, Edith (26 September 1876–28 July 1957), social reformer, social work educator, and author, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the daughter of Othman Ali Abbott, a lawyer and first lieutenant governor of Nebraska, and Elizabeth Maletta Griffin, a woman suffrage advocate. Abbott grew up in a comfortable and politically progressive household on the American prairie. However, the severe economic depression that began in 1893 caused Abbott to postpone her college plans after graduation from an Omaha girls’ boarding school. Instead, at the age of seventeen she became a teacher at the Grand Island High School....

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Abel-Henderson, Annie Heloise (18 February 1873–14 March 1947), historian and author, was born in Fernhurst, Sussex, England, the daughter of George Abel and Amelia Anne Hogben. Her parents had immigrated to the United States in 1871 but had not found Kansas frontier life appealing and returned home to England. In 1884, however, they went back to Salina, Kansas, where George Abel worked as a gardener. Abel and two sisters joined their parents in 1885....

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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary (05 December 1822–27 June 1907), college president, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father, Thomas Graves Cary, was a businessman who became treasurer for the Hamilton and Appleton Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, and her mother, Mary Ann Perkins, was one of the daughters of ...

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Ahern, Mary Eileen (01 October 1860–22 May 1938), librarian and editor, was born on a farm southwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, to William Ahern, a farmer, and Mary O’Neill, both Irish immigrants. In 1870 the family left the farm for Spencer, Indiana, where Mary Eileen graduated from high school in 1878. Following her graduation from Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, in 1881, she worked as a teacher in the public schools of Bloomfield, Spencer, and Peru, Indiana, for eight years....

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Ainsworth, Dorothy Sears (08 March 1894–02 December 1976), physical education teacher and founder of international organizations for her discipline, was born in Moline, Illinois, the daughter of Harry Ainsworth, an engineering draftsman, and Stella Davidson. Miss Ainsworth graduated with a B.A. in history from Smith College in 1916. After her undergraduate education, she taught physical education at Moline High School. In 1918 she was invited to join the first Smith College Relief Unit, founded by another Smith alumna, ...

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Akeley, Mary Leonore Jobe (29 January 1878–19 July 1966), explorer, author, and educator, was born near Tappan, Ohio, the daughter of Richard Watson Jobe and Sarah Jane Pittis, farmers. (The year of her birth is sometimes erroneously given as 1886.) She received a Ph.B. at Scio College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1897. (Scio, a Methodist school, merged with Mount Union College in Alliance in 1911.) She took graduate courses at Bryn Mawr (1901–1903) and taught at Temple College (now Temple University). She was head of the Department of History and Civics at the New York State Normal School and Training School in Cortland, New York (1903–1906), studied history and English at Columbia University, and in 1907 began to teach American history at the Normal College of the City of New York (now Hunter College). She received her M.A. in history at Columbia in 1909....

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Allinson, Anne Crosby Emery (01 January 1871–16 August 1932), educator, was born in Ellsworth, Maine, the daughter of Lucilius Alonzo Emery, a lawyer, and Anne Crosby. She described her home as a literate and busy household where her parents encouraged their two children in serious study. Lucilius Emery, attorney general of Maine and later chief justice of Maine’s supreme court, and Anne Emery both pushed their daughter “Nan” to “develop independence of thought and vigorous belief in the capabilities of her sex.”...

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American, Sadie (03 March 1862–03 May 1944), social welfare activist and educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of German-Jewish immigrant Oscar L. American and Amelia Smith. Little is known of her childhood, but she was educated in Chicago public schools.

American became a founder in 1893 and later executive secretary of the philanthropic, middle-class reform organization the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). In her early thirties she held positions in dozens of social welfare, charitable, and educational institutions from 1893 to 1904, including that of president of the New York Section of the NCJW and of the Consumers’ League of New York State (1893–1894). She also directed the Woman’s Municipal League in New York City and was chair of its Tenement House Committee (1893–1894)....

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Andrews, Eliza Frances (10 August 1840–21 January 1931), author and educator, was born at Haywood Plantation near Washington, Georgia, the daughter of Garnett Andrews, a judge and planter, and Annulet Ball. After attending the Ladies’ Seminary in Washington, Georgia, Andrews, often known as “Fanny,” was, in 1857, one of the first students to receive an A.B. degree at LaGrange Female College in LaGrange, Georgia....

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Andrews, Fannie Fern Phillips (25 September 1867–23 January 1950), pacifist and educational reformer, was born in Margaretville, Nova Scotia, the daughter of William Wallace Phillips, a shoemaker, and Anna Maria Brown, a church activist. Andrews grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts; she graduated from Salem Normal School in 1884 and taught school in Lynn between 1884 and 1890. In 1890 she married Edwin G. Andrews, a salesman in Lynn; they had no children. In 1895–1896 Andrews resumed her studies, at the Harvard summer school, and in 1902 she received her A.B. from Radcliffe in education and psychology....

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Andrews, Jane (01 December 1833–15 July 1887), educator and writer of children's books, educator and writer of children’s books, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Andrews, a bookseller and later a cashier, and Margaret Demmon Rand. Andrews was educated at Newburyport’s new Putnam Free School, an academy that quickly attained a reputation for high standards. She also took part in a small writing group (with ...

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Andrews, Regina (21 May 1901–05 February 1993), librarian and dramatist, was born Regina M. Anderson in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, Illinois, to Margaret Simons Anderson, a clubwoman and ceramics artist, and William Grant Anderson, an attorney. Regina grew up in an upper-middle-class family because of her father’s success as a defense attorney, which earned him the nickname “Habeas Corpus.” Her views about race were no doubt shaped by her father’s fighting for racial justice for his clients and his collaboration with the antilynching advocate ...

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Andrus, Ethel Percy (21 September 1884–13 July 1967), educator and founder of the National Retired Teachers Association and the American Association of Retired Persons, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of George Wallace Andrus, a lawyer, and Lucretia Frances Duke. After the births of Ethel and her sister Maud, the family moved to Illinois to enable her father to study advanced law at the University of Chicago. Influenced by her parents, Ethel developed a love and respect for learning that would mark both stages of her career....

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Angela, Mother (21 February 1824–04 March 1887), educator and religious sister, was born Eliza Marie Gillespie in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Purcell Gillespie, an attorney, and Mary Madeleine Miers. After the death of her father the family moved to Lancaster, Ohio, in 1838. Eliza was educated by Dominican nuns in Somerset and later attended the Ladies’ Academy of the Visitation in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C....

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Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler (03 April 1817–25 November 1884), suffragist, author, and educator, was born in Lerchenhausen, Westphalia, Germany, the daughter of Karl Giesler, a Catholic landlord and mine owner, and Elisabeth Hülswitt. She grew up comfortably and was well educated, more through learned company than tutors and schools. In fact, as a teacher in later years she would read “Fridjhoff’s saga to her pupils and recite from memory the translation she had read when eleven years old,” given to her by a prince (Heinzen, p. 3)....

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Arbuthnot, May Hill (27 August 1884–02 October 1969), educator and children's literature specialist, educator and children’s literature specialist, was born in Mason City, Iowa, the daughter of Frank Hill and Mary Elizabeth Seville. May’s childhood was reminiscent of the quality of family life she advocated throughout her professional life—hers was a family in which it was “as unnatural not to read as not to eat.” Arbuthnot later said that her mother, whose “joy in books and people never failed,” guided May and her brother to “the Alcott books and swung us into Dickens and the Waverley novels at an early age.” Her father read aloud classics such as ...

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Hannah Arendt. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90832).

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Arendt, Hannah (14 October 1906–04 December 1975), political theorist and philosopher, was born in Hanover, Germany, the daughter of Paul Arendt, an engineer, and Martha Cohn. She was raised in her parents’ hometown, Königsberg, East Prussia, where the family moved when Paul Arendt became seriously ill with syphilis. He died in 1913. The years during World War I were especially difficult for the family; their safety was often threatened by the nearby battles of the Prussian and Russian armies. After the war, Arendt’s mother became a German Social Democrat and a follower of Rosa Luxemburg, whose writings later had a great influence on Arendt’s thought. In 1920 her mother married Martin Beerwald, who provided the family a renewed measure of security and Arendt with two older stepsisters....