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Fossey, Dian (16 January 1932– December 1985), naturalist and zoologist, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of George Fossey, an insurance agent, and Kitty Kidd, a fashion model. Her alcoholic father left the family when Fossey was three years old, and her stepfather, Richard Price, was unloving and discouraging. Her uncle Albert Chapin helped take care of Fossey and financed her schooling....

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Maxwell, Martha Ann Dartt (21 July 1831–31 May 1881), naturalist, was born in Dartt’s Settlement, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Spencer Dartt and Amy Sanford, farmers. Her father died shortly afterward, and when she was ten years old, her mother married Spencer’s first cousin, Josiah Dartt, a scholarly man who became an important mentor and guide. Moving westward, the Dartts followed family members to Illinois and then Wisconsin, eventually settling in Baraboo. Although funds were scarce, Dartt’s parents wanted her to continue her education, and in 1851 she entered Oberlin College, the first American school to admit women to regular college classes and to award them the A.B. degree. Dartt’s Oberlin years were perhaps the happiest of her life, forming and strengthening her commitment to learning and reform. Forced by lack of money to leave Oberlin in late 1852, she soon was given a chance to attend Lawrence University, another early coeducational school, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Baraboo businessman James A. Maxwell, a widower twenty years her senior with six children, asked her to accompany his eldest son and daughter to Lawrence; in return, he would pay her expenses. Soon James’s true motivation became clear—he wanted to marry her, and thus she became Martha Dartt Maxwell on 30 March 1854 in Appleton. They had one child....

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Miller, Harriet Mann (25 June 1831–25 December 1918), author and naturalist, known by the pseudonym Olive Thorne Miller, was born in Auburn, New York, the daughter of Seth Hunt Mann, a banker, and Mary Field Holbrook. During her youth she lived in Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri and was educated in private schools....

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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. ...