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Allen, Elizabeth Akers (09 October 1832–07 August 1911), poet and journalist, was born Elizabeth Ann Chase in Strong, Maine, the second of three daughters of Thomas Chase, a carpenter and circuit preacher, and Mercy Fenno Barton. Her childhood was traumatic. A fourth sibling died accidentally, and her frail mother, whose medical treatments led Elizabeth to vow to murder the doctor, died in 1836. Her father placed his daughters separately with acquaintances until he remarried the following year. Four-year-old Elizabeth’s foster parents forced her to work, whipped her, and shut her in the cellar when she failed to meet their expectations. She had some schooling at Farmington (Maine) Academy. She wrote her first verses at age twelve; these were published in a Vermont newspaper, having been submitted without her knowledge. Eager to escape a grim home, she began working at thirteen, first in a sweatshop-like bookbindery, later as a teacher....

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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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Bass, Charlotta Spears ( October 1880?–12 April 1969), editor and civil rights activist, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the daughter of Hiram Spears and Kate (maiden name unknown). Before 1900 she joined her oldest brother (one of her ten siblings) in Rhode Island and worked for a newspaper. In 1910 she went to Los Angeles, California, for her health. She remained in Los Angeles except for a brief stay in New York City. She took journalism courses at Brown University, Columbia University, and the University of California at Los Angeles....

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Daisy Bates state president of the NAACP, stands in front of metal guards on the living room window of her home in Little Rock, 13 August 1959. Associated Press

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Bates, Daisy (11 November 1914–04 November 1999), civil rights activist, newspaper founder and publisher, was born Daisy Lee Gatson in Huttig, Arkansas. Her biological father and mother, reputedly John Gatson and Millie Riley, remain shrouded in mystery, and scholars have been unable to find evidence confirming her parentage. (Thus, her reported birth date varies: the one given here is widely acknowledged.) Bates grew up hearing that several white men had raped and murdered her mother and thrown the body in a pond. Leaving his infant daughter in the care of friends Orlee and Susie Smith, who became her foster parents, her father abandoned her, never to return. This was Bates's baptism into the poverty, insecurity, and racial violence that segregation fostered....

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Eliza Violet Gist Blair. Francis Preston Blair and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ6-1725).

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Blair, Eliza Violet Gist (1794–05 July 1877), newspaperwoman and political hostess, was born in either Virginia or in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the daughter of Nathaniel Gist, an Indian agent and planter, and Judith Cary Bell. Eliza’s father died in 1797, and a decade later her mother married ...

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Bradwell, Myra Colby (12 February 1831–14 February 1894), publisher and political activist, was born in Manchester, Vermont, the daughter of Eben Colby and Abigail Willey. She spent her childhood in Vermont and western New York, and when she was twelve, her family moved to Illinois. She attended local schools in Wisconsin and Illinois and became a schoolteacher. In 1852 she married ...

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Cantwell, Mary (10 May 1930–01 February 2000), writer, was born Mary Lee Cantwell in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of Leo Cantwell, a man of Scottish descent who worked as a production manager in a rubber plant, and Mary Lonergan Cantwell, a former teacher and the descendant of nineteenth-century Irish immigrants. As described in her nostalgic memoir ...

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Cary, Mary Ann Camberton Shadd (09 October 1823–05 June 1893), African-American educator, journalist/editor, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Parnell. Although the eldest of thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd grew up in comfortable economic circumstances. Little is known about her mother except that she was born in North Carolina in 1806 and was of mixed black and white heritage; whether she was born free or a slave is unknown. Shadd’s father was also of mixed-race heritage. His paternal grandfather, Jeremiah Schad, was a German soldier who had fought in the American Revolution and later married Elizabeth Jackson, a free black woman from Pennsylvania. Abraham Shadd had amassed his wealth as a shoemaker, and his property by the 1830s was valued at $5,000. He was a respected member of the free black community in Wilmington and in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved sometime in the 1830s, and he served as a delegate to the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and 1836....

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Colby, Clara Dorothy Bewick (05 August 1846–07 September 1916), woman's rights activist and publisher, woman’s rights activist and publisher, was born in Gloucester, England, the daughter of Thomas Bewick and Clara Willingham. The Bewicks immigrated to the United States in 1849, settling on a farm in Windsor, Wisconsin; Clara and her maternal grandparents joined them in 1854. She entered the University of Wisconsin in 1865, initially enrolling in the “normal department” set up for women. However, with faculty assistance, she pursued the “classical course” designed for men. In 1869 she graduated as valedictorian of Wisconsin’s first class of women to be awarded the bachelor of philosophy degree. She remained at the university until 1871, teaching Latin and history and taking graduate classes in French, Greek, and chemistry....

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Conway, Katherine Eleanor (06 September 1853–02 January 1927), author and editor, was born in Rochester, New York, the daughter of James Conway and Sarah Agatha (maiden name unknown). Educated at Sacred Heart academies in Rochester and New York City and at St. Mary’s Academy in Buffalo, New York, Conway began her writing career in 1875 as a reporter for the ...

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Dorothy Day. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111099).

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Day, Dorothy (08 November 1897–29 November 1980), founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Day, a newspaperman, and Grace Satterlee. Her father was a frustrated novelist and horseracing writer whose work took the family to Oakland and Chicago. While in Chicago, Day won a scholarship to the University of Illinois in 1914. She dropped out after two years to return to New York with her family, but she had become a socialist in college and was soon estranged from her father. She lived on the Lower East Side, where she wrote for the ...

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Draper, Margaret Green (fl. 1750–1807), printer and a publisher, was a . Nothing certain is known regarding her parentage or the place of her birth, although some sources suggest that she was a granddaughter of printer Bartholomew Green and the daughter of Thomas Green and Ann (maiden name unknown). What is known is that she married ...

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Duane, Margaret Hartman Markoe Bache (07 November 1770–28 May 1836), editor and printer, was born on St. Croix, the daughter of Francis Markoe and Elizabeth Hartman, Danish immigrant sugar planters. She lived on St. Croix on her parents’ plantation until her father’s death, probably in the late 1770s, when she moved to Philadelphia with her mother. They lived, for a time, with Margaret’s uncle, Abraham Markoe, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who had constructed a large mansion in the heart of the city....

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Field, Kate (01 October 1838–19 May 1896), journalist, actress, and editor, was born Mary Katherine Keemle Field in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Joseph M. Field, an actor, journalist, and theater manager, and Eliza Riddle, an actress. After early schooling in St. Louis, at the age of sixteen Field went to Boston to visit her mother’s sister Cordelia, the wife of a millionaire, Milton L. Sanford. Sanford sent her to Lasell Seminary, Auburndale, Massachusetts (1854–1856), and introduced her to the world of the socially elite....

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Franklin, Ann Smith (02 October 1696–19 April 1763), printer and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel Smith and Anna (or Ann; maiden name unknown). She grew up in Boston.

In light of her later successful career, it is reasonable to conclude that she was at least as well educated as most girls of her era. In 1723 she married ...

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Goddard, Mary Katherine (16 June 1738–12 August 1816), printer, newspaper publisher, and postmaster, was born in Groton, Connecticut, the daughter of Giles Goddard, a physician, and Sarah Updike Goddard, a printer. Growing up in New London, Connecticut, Goddard received an exceptional education for a woman in the 1700s, most of it from her mother, who had been taught by a French tutor. Little else is known about her early life....

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Goddard, Sarah Updike (1700–05 January 1770), printer and newspaper publisher, was born at Cocumscussuc, near the village of Wickford on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, the daughter of Lodowick Updike and Abigail Newton, prominent landowners. Her paternal grandfather, Gysbert op Dyck, had emigrated from Germany to Long Island, New York, where he had purchased what later became Coney Island. Her father moved from New Amsterdam to Rhode Island and anglicized his name to Updike....