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Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....

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Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...

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Cooke, Morris Llewellyn (11 May 1872–05 March 1960), consulting management engineer, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, one of eight children born to William Harvey Cooke, a physician, and Elizabeth Richmond Marsden. Morris Cook attended Lehigh University, where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering in 1895. At age twenty-eight Cooke married Eleanor Bushnell Davis, an heiress who shared his progressive political views. They had no children....

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Du Bois, W. E. B. (23 February 1868–27 August 1963), African-American activist, historian, and sociologist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois, a barber and itinerant laborer. In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins, weaving them rhetorically and conceptually—if not always accurately—into almost everything he wrote. Born in Haiti and descended from Bahamian mulatto slaves, Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward. He also deserted the family less than two years after his son’s birth, leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin. Long resident in New England, the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had fought briefly in the American Revolution. Under the care of his mother and her relatives, young Will Du Bois spent his entire childhood in that small western Massachusetts town, where probably fewer than two-score of the 4,000 inhabitants were African American. He received a classical, college preparatory education in Great Barrington’s racially integrated high school, from whence, in June 1884, he became the first African-American graduate. A precocious youth, Du Bois not only excelled in his high school studies but contributed numerous articles to two regional newspapers, the Springfield ...

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Johnson, Charles Spurgeon (24 July 1893–27 October 1956), sociologist and educator, was born in Bristol, Virginia, the son of Reverend Charles Henry Johnson, a minister in the black Baptist church, and Winifred Branch. Bristol, a small city in the state’s far southwest corner, had the usual pattern of racial segregation, and it is where Charles received his primary education. He was then sent to Richmond to a private Baptist academy linked to Virginia Union University, a leading black institution, where he completed his undergraduate degree with honors in 1916. Working part time in the Richmond ghetto, he was shocked by the racial discrimination and economic deprivation marking southern Negro life. That led him to decide on graduate work in sociology, to concentrate on race relations, and to focus in particular on conditions in the urban-industrial North in the setting of the Great Migration, the northward movement of thousands of southern blacks....

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Kinsey, Alfred Charles (23 June 1894–25 August 1956), entomologist and sex researcher, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Alfred Seguine Kinsey, instructor of mechanical arts at Stevens Institute of Technology, and Sarah Ann Charles. His father, a domineering and relentlessly pious patriarch, intimidated Sarah and the children. Alfred was a frail boy who contracted rheumatic and typhoid fever. Perhaps as compensation for his early confinement to the home, in adolescence Alfred acquired a passionate interest in nature and resolved to become a biologist. He was valedictorian of the Columbia High School class of 1912....

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Masters, William Howell (27 December 1915–16 February 2001), physician, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Francis W. Masters and Estabrooks Taylor Masters. Details of his family background are unknown beyond the fact that Masters grew up in comfortable financial circumstances. Young Masters attended school in Kansas City, Missouri. At fourteen he was sent to board at Lawrenceville, a noted preparatory school in New Jersey. Upon graduation he entered Hamilton College in the fall of 1934. Masters was an excellent student, specializing in science; he was also a skilled debater and a proficient and versatile athlete, active on varsity teams in football, baseball, basketball, and track. After receiving a B.S. degree with honors in 1938, Masters enrolled at the University of Rochester Medical School. In his first year he came under the influence of his anatomy professor, ...

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Whyte, William H. (01 October 1917–12 January 1999), author and editor, was born William Hollingsworth Whyte, Jr., in West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of two sons of William Hollingsworth Whyte, a railroad man, and Louise Toth Whyte. He went to St. Andrews School in Middletown, Delaware, where he edited the school paper, before he enrolled in the college at Princeton University, where he won a playwriting contest and majored in English, receiving an A.B. cum laude in 1939....