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Ames, Blanche Ames (18 February 1878–01 March 1969), artist and women's rights activist, artist and women’s rights activist, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Adelbert Ames, a Civil War general and governor of Mississippi during Reconstruction, and Blanche Butler, whose father was a general and governor of Massachusetts. The younger Blanche graduated from Smith College in 1899 with diplomas from both the College and the School of Art....

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Bascom, Florence (14 July 1862–18 June 1945), geologist and educator, was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the daughter of suffragist Emma Curtiss and John Bascom, a professor at Williams College. Her mother, as an officer of the National Suffrage Association wrote, “While the ballot is withheld from women and given to all other classes of citizens except idiots and criminals, it puts on womanhood an inescapable badge, and an inescapable fact, of inferiority” (quoted in Smith, p. 17). Her father advocated for coeducation and unsuccessfully raised the issue at Williams. Both parents profoundly affected the way Florence Bascom saw the world. She became the first woman in the United States to enter fully the profession of geology....

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Carr, Marjorie H. (26 Mar. 1915–10 Oct. 1997), environmental activist and zoologist, was born Marjorie Harris in Boston, Massachusetts, to Charles Ellsworth Harris, a teacher, and Clara Louise Haynes. The couple wintered in Florida, eventually relocating in 1918 to a ten-acre orange grove south of Bonita Springs. Marjorie reveled in the natural beauty of rural southwest Florida, enjoying the nearby rivers and beaches while riding her beloved pony. In ...

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Douglas, Marjory Stoneman (07 April 1890–14 May 1998), author and environmentalist, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Florence Lillian Trefethen Stoneman, who went by the name of Lillian, and Frank Bryant Stoneman, a businessman and newspaper editor. When Marjory was three her father's business failed, and the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Further business reverses took a toll on Lillian Stoneman's mental health and resulted in a nervous breakdown. Not long thereafter, Lillian separated from her husband and, with her six-year-old daughter, traveled to Taunton, Massachusetts, to live with her parents and unmarried sister....

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Freeman, Harriet Elizabeth (13 March 1847–30 December 1930), botanist, geologist, conservationist, and letter writer, was born in the North End neighborhood of Boston to William Frederick Freeman and Caroline Crosby Lewis. Her father, who was in partnership with his brother-in-law in Caribbean shipping and trading, founded the Aetna Mills on the Charles River. After moving to Boston’s South End in 1861, the Freemans joined the South Congregational Church, a Unitarian church whose minister was ...

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Pennington, Mary Engle (08 October 1872–27 December 1952), food-processing chemist, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the daughter of Henry Pennington and Sarah B. Molony. Soon after her birth the family moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her father set up a label-making business. Mary enjoyed gardening, which was a hobby of her father, and at the age of twelve she became interested in medical chemistry after reading a library book about it. Her parents were surprised but supportive. In 1890 she entered the Towne Scientific School of the University of Pennsylvania as a special student (because she was a woman). The school gave her a certificate of proficiency in 1892, when she completed the work for a B.S., but they refused her the degree, which was only offered to men. Under a university rule for “extraordinary cases,” Pennington was allowed to continue studying at the University of Pennsylvania for a Ph.D. in chemistry, which she received in 1895. She held a fellowship there in chemical botany for two years and then a fellowship in physiological chemistry at Yale University for another year....

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Richards, Ellen Henrietta Swallow (03 December 1842–30 March 1911), chemist and home economist, was born on a farm outside of Dunstable, Massachusetts, the only child of two schoolteachers, Peter Swallow and Fanny Gould Taylor. The family moved to nearby Westford so that Ellen could attend the coeducational Westford Academy. After graduation, she taught school briefly before returning home to nurse her ailing mother and work as a bookkeeper for her father, who had opened a general store. These years were marked by depression and despair. Richards was diagnosed as suffering from neurasthenia, which quickly subsided when her parents agreed to send her to the newly opened Vassar College for women....

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Mabel Osgood Wright. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102414).

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Wright, Mabel Osgood (26 January 1859–16 July 1934), naturalist and author, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Osgood, a Unitarian minister, and Ellen Haswell Murdock. Her father, a member of William Cullen Bryant’s literary circle, was the pastor of the Church of the Messiah in New York City from 1849 to 1869, after which he entered the Episcopal ministry. ...