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La Follette, Belle Case (21 April 1859–18 August 1931), political activist and magazine editor, was born in Juneau County, Wisconsin, the daughter of Anson Case and Mary Nesbit, farmers. She attended the University of Wisconsin in 1875, taking a modern classical course. She became a member of the Laurean Literary Society and represented it at the junior oratory exhibition. At graduation in 1879 she won the Lewis Oratorical Prize for the best commencement oration. She taught high school near Madison for two years after graduation....

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Sonneschein, Rosa (12 March 1847–05 March 1932), editor and Zionist, was born in Nagykansiza, Hungary, the daughter of Hirsch B. Fassel, a rabbi, and Fannie Sternfeld. She attained a high school education in Hungary and at a young age, in 1864, married Solomon Hirsch Sonneschein, a Reform rabbi; they had four children. In 1869 they immigrated to the United States and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. From the outset, their marriage was a disaster because they were wholly incompatible and because of her husband’s alcoholism. During her tumultuous marriage, Sonneschein began a lifelong habit of smoking cigars after dinner, claiming that smoking helped alleviate the indigestion that resulted when she and her husband quarreled at the dinner table....

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Waite, Catharine Van Valkenburg (30 January 1829–09 November 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and writer, was born in Dumfries, Canada West, the daughter of Joseph Van Valkenburg and Margaret Page, presumably farmers. Very little is known about Van Valkenburg’s early schooling. When she was seventeen, her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Fort Madison, Iowa. She studied at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and then at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, graduating in 1853. In 1854 she married Charles Burlingame Waite, a judge whom she had met at Knox. The couple had six children, five of whom survived childhood....