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Adamson, Joy (20 January 1910–03 January 1980), writer and conservationist, was born Friederike Viktoria Gessner in Troppau, Austria, the daughter of Victor Gessner, a civil servant, and Traute Greipel. Before her first marriage, to automobile company official Viktor von Klarwill in 1935, Adamson studied piano and took courses in other arts, including sculpture. She made her first trip to Kenya in 1936, to investigate that country as a possible new home for herself and her husband, whose Jewish background made him eager to leave Austria at this time of Nazi advance. During this trip she became involved with Peter Bally, a Swiss botanist whom she married in 1938 after becoming divorced from von Klarwill in 1937....

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Inez Milholland Boissevain Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0661-B).

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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Booth, Maud Elizabeth Charlesworth Ballington (13 September 1865–26 August 1948), Salvation Army leader, cofounder of the Volunteers of America, and prison reformer, was born in Limpsfield Surrey, England, the daughter of Samuel Beddome Charlesworth and Maria Beddome, Samuel’s first cousin. Her father served as the minister of an aristocratic country parish but was reassigned to a church in a poor section of London in 1868. William Booth, the itinerant Wesleyan preacher who had broken from the Methodist church three years earlier to found the Christian Mission (renamed the Salvation Army in 1878), had rented the building across the street from Maud’s father’s church, and Booth’s open-air meetings introduced Maud to the Salvation Army’s noisy style of street-corner evangelism....

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Comstock, Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright (30 October 1815–03 August 1891), Quaker minister and reformer, was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, the daughter of William Rous, a shopkeeper, and Mary Kekwick. Her parents were Quakers with family ties to the Society of Friends going back to the seventeenth century. They reared her in a strict Quaker atmosphere, an upbringing reinforced by education in Quaker schools at Islington and Croyden. In 1839 Elizabeth Rous returned to Croyden as a teacher; in 1842 she joined the staff of the Friends school at Ackworth. She remained there until her marriage in 1848 to Leslie Wright, a Quaker market gardener of Walthamstow in Essex. They had one child. After her husband’s death in 1851, Elizabeth Wright kept a shop for a time at Bakewell in Devonshire. In 1854 she immigrated with her daughter and an unmarried sister to Belleville, Ontario. Four years later she married John T. Comstock, a prosperous Quaker farmer of Rollin, Michigan, where Elizabeth Comstock and her daughter moved....

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Crandall, Prudence (03 September 1803–28 January 1890), abolitionist and teacher, was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer, and Esther Carpenter. When Crandall was ten her family moved to another farm in Canterbury, Connecticut. As a young woman she spent a few years (1825–1826, 1827–1830) at the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence and also taught school for a time in Plainfield, Connecticut....

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Davis, Katharine Bement (15 January 1860–10 December 1935), social worker, prison reformer, and sex researcher, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Frances Bement and Oscar Bill Davis, a manager for the Bradstreet Company, precursor of Dun and Bradstreet, the credit rating firm. When her father suffered business reversals following the panic of 1873, Davis had to postpone plans for college and work as a public school teacher for ten years. She continued her studies independently and in 1890 entered Vassar College at the age of thirty, graduating two years later with honors....

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DeCrow, Karen (18 December 1937–06 June 2014), feminist activist, author, and civil rights attorney, was born Karen Lipschultz in Chicago, the older of two daughters of businessman Samuel Meyer Lipschultz and Juliette Abt Lipschultz, a former professional ballet dancer. Educated in the city’s public schools, as a teenager she composed and submitted short stories to national magazines, and she pursued her interest in writing in college as well. She graduated from Sullivan High School in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood in 1955 and received a bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1959....

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Eastman, Crystal (25 June 1881–08 July 1928), lawyer and social reformer, was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel Elijah Eastman and Annis Bertha Ford, both Congregational ministers. Her mother, ordained as one of the first women Congregational ministers in 1890, was a progressive thinker and eloquent speaker and had a great influence on her children. Eastman earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College (1903), a master’s degree in sociology from Columbia University (1904), and a doctorate from New York University Law School (1907)....

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Farnham, Eliza Wood Burhans (17 November 1815–15 December 1864), author, prison reformer, and proponent of the superiority of women, was born in Rensselaerville, New York, the daughter of Cornelius Burhans and Mary Wood. Her father’s occupation is not known; her mother, a Quaker, died in 1820, after which her five children were scattered. Eliza eventually went to live with an aunt and uncle in Maple Springs, New York. The aunt, she later recalled, raised her through “neglect and hardship” ( ...

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Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Seated right, with J. E. Fellows, dean of admissions at the University of Oklahoma, seated left, and, standing left to right, Thurgood Marshall and Amos T. Hall, 1948. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-84479).

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Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel (08 February 1924–18 October 1995), civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921....

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Foltz, Clara Shortridge (16 July 1849–02 September 1934), first woman lawyer on the Pacific Coast, suffrage leader, and founder of the public defender movement, was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the only daughter of Elias Shortridge and Talitha Harwood. Trained as a lawyer, Elias Shortridge turned instead to preaching among the Disciples of Christ and in 1860 became pastor to a well-established church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. For a few years, Clara attended the progressive Howe’s Academy until her father was expelled from his congregation for unorthodoxy. She then became a teacher herself in nearby Illinois before eloping—at the age of fifteen—with a handsome Union soldier, Jeremiah Foltz. During hard years on an Iowa farm, she bore four children....

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Judith Ellen Foster. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102556).

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Foster, Judith Ellen Horton Avery (03 November 1840–11 August 1910), lawyer, temperance activist, and Republican party leader, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Jotham Horton, a blacksmith and a Methodist minister, and Judith Delano. Both parents died when she was young, and Judith moved to Boston to live with her older married sister. She then lived with a relative in Lima, New York, where she attended the Genessee Wesleyan Seminary. After graduation she taught school until her first marriage to Addison Avery in 1860. They had two children, one of whom died in childhood. The marriage ended about 1866, and she moved to Chicago, supporting herself and her child by teaching music in a mission school. In Chicago she met Elijah Caleb Foster, a native of Canada and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. After their marriage in 1869, they moved to Clinton, Iowa. They had two children; one died at the age of five....

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Gibbons, Abigail Hopper (07 December 1801–16 January 1893), prison reformer and abolitionist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Isaac Tatem Hopper and Sarah Tatum, Quakers. Her father earned a moderate living as a tailor and later as a bookseller but devoted most of his time to aiding runaway slaves and free blacks. Her mother was a minister in the Society of Friends. Two years after her mother’s death in 1822, her father remarried, and in 1829 he moved with most of his family to New York City. Abigail joined them in 1830 and helped support the family by teaching at a Quaker school....

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Howorth, Lucy (01 July 1895–23 August 1997), lawyer, politician, and feminist activist, was born Lucy Somerville in Greenville, Mississippi, the youngest of four children and second daughter of Robert and Nellie Nugent Somerville. Many of her forefathers were legislators, lawyers, or judges. Her female ancestors were known as women of strong character who were well respected in their communities. Through homeschooling and example, Nellie Somerville passed on to her youngest child a love for learning and a concern for contemporary social issues. Nellie, a college graduate, advocated temperance and was president of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association. She was also a devout Methodist, a perspective never accepted by Lucy. Nellie began taking Lucy to community meetings, including suffrage rallies, before her first birthday. When she was older Lucy helped at suffrage conventions and met national women’s rights leaders including Dr. ...

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Kepley, Ada Harriet Miser (11 February 1847–13 June 1925), lawyer and social reformer, was born in Somerset, Ohio, to Henry Miser and Ann Knowles. The family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1860 and then to the pioneer village of Effingham, Illinois, in 1866. Her parents operated a hotel, and her father served as constable in the county until he died in 1872. Her mother ran the first book store and news depot in Effingham and was the proprietor of its second circulating library until she died in 1878....

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King, Carol Weiss (24 August 1895–22 January 1952), attorney and civil rights activist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel W. Weiss, a prominent attorney, and Carrie Stix, a member of a well-known mercantile family. King graduated from the Horace Mann School (1912) and Barnard College (1916) before receiving her law degree from New York University in 1920. In 1917, while attending law school, she married Gordon Congdon King, a writer, who died of pneumonia in 1930. Their one child, Jonathan, became a publisher of books for G. P. Putnam’s Sons. In 1921 King joined the law firm of Hale, Nelles & Shorr and in 1925 became a founding partner of its successor, Shorr, Brodsky & King....

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Laughlin, Gail (07 May 1868–13 March 1952), feminist, lawyer, and state legislator, was born Abbie Hill “Gail” Laughlin in Robbinston, Maine, the daughter of Robert Clark Laughlin, an ironworker, and Elizabeth Porter Stuart. After the death of her father, Laughlin’s indigent family moved to Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, where her mother’s family resided. In 1880 the family settled in Portland, Maine, where Laughlin graduated from Portland High School in 1886, receiving a medal for the highest marks....