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Roger Nash Baldwin. [left to right] Roger Nash Baldwin, Felicia Bernstein, and Leonard Bernstein, celebrating Baldwin's eightieth birthday. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109651).

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Baldwin, Roger Nash (21 January 1884–26 August 1981), civil libertarian and social activist, was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, the son of Frank Fenno Baldwin, a leather manufacturer who owned several companies, and Lucy Cushing Nash. The lines on both sides of the family went back to the Pilgrims. Baldwin attended Wellesley public schools. As a boy he lacked prowess in sports and developed interests in music, art, and nature. He was regarded as “different,” which made him seek, early in life, “unconventional, nonconformist avenues of expression” consistent with the intellectual heritage of ...

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Calloway, Ernest (01 January 1909–31 December 1989), African American labor and civil rights leader, journalist, and public intellectual, was born in Heberton, West Virginia. His father, also named Ernest, was a coal miner, and his mother, Mary Hayes, was the elder Calloway’s second wife. In 1913 the family moved to Jenkins, Kentucky, where Calloway spent his teenage years. A bright and restless youth, Calloway rebelled against the racial segregation and tight social control he experienced in a company-dominated southern coal town. After working in the mines with his father, he hoboed across the United States during the early years of the Great Depression. In March 1934 Calloway’s first published article appeared in a National Urban League magazine and led to his receiving a scholarship to attend Brookwood Labor College, an independent school that supported working-class insurgency. Calloway’s stint at Brookwood imbued him with commitments to industrial unionism, interracial organizing, and democratic socialism that endured throughout his long career....

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Castro, Sal (25 October 1933–15 April 2013), high school teacher and community activist, was born Salvador Castro in Los Angeles, the only child of Carmen Buruel and Salvador Castro, both Mexican immigrant workers. Because his father was undocumented he was deported in 1935 as part of a repatriation movement that blamed Mexican immigrants for taking jobs from “real Americans” during the Great Depression; Castro and his mother were spared being part of this tragic episode. The separation eventually led to his parents divorcing; his mother later remarried....

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Chafee, Zechariah, Jr. (07 December 1885–08 February 1957), professor of law and civil libertarian, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Zechariah Chafee, an industrialist, and Mary Dexter Sharpe. For generations his father’s family owned and ran the Builders Iron Foundry, and his mother’s family owned the Brown and Sharpe Manufacturing Company. Chafee attended Brown University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1907. For three years he worked at the family foundry but discovered that he was temperamentally unsuited to the life of an industrialist. He entered Harvard Law School in 1910 and again showed intellectual prowess by graduating at the top of his class in 1913. In 1912 he married Bess Frank Searle; they had four children. Chafee practiced at a law firm in Providence until 1916 when he joined the Harvard Law School faculty, where he would remain until his retirement in 1956. He was made a full professor in 1919, eventually occupied the prestigious Langdell Chair, and became a University Professor in 1950....

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Coolidge, Albert Sprague (23 January 1894–31 August 1977), chemical physicist, political activist, and civil libertarian, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Frederic Shurtleff Coolidge, an orthopedic surgeon, and Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. His mother was the daughter of Albert Arnold Sprague, a pioneer merchant of Chicago, which made it possible for Sprague Coolidge to be financially independent. He was directly descended from John Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, who emigrated from England in 1630 and whose farm occupied almost all of what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts. His college preparatory education was at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. from Harvard College in 1915. That year he married Margaret Stewart Coit. They had five children....

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DeSilver, Albert (03 August 1888–07 December 1924), civil liberties leader and lawyer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Carll Harrison DeSilver, a stockbroker and art patron, and Mary Henrietta Block. He attended private schools in Brooklyn and Connecticut and was graduated in 1910 from Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones and the editorial board of the ...

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Galamison, Milton Arthur (25 Mar. 1923–9 Mar. 1988), Presbyterian minister, civil rights leader, and community activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Gladstone Galamison, a postal worker, and Dorothy Galamison, a clothier. Galamison grew up in poverty, which he attributed not to the Great Depression but rather to his father’s abandoning his family. After his parents separated Galamison lived with his maternal grandmother and aunt....

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Garcia, Hector Perez (17 January 1914–26 July 1996), physician, community organizer, and civil rights activist, was born 17 January 1914 in Llera, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was the second of nine children born to José and Faustina García, who emigrated to Mercedes, Texas, in 1917. Both of García’s parents were teachers in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution forced the family to flee the country. They instilled in their children the value of education, conducting daily lessons in language, literature, history, and math. In Mercedes Héctor’s father was a small business owner managing a dry-goods store and supporting all of his children through college. Remarkably, six of the García children would complete medical degrees....

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Norman Dorsen and Sarah Barringer Gordon

Hays, Arthur Garfield (12 December 1881–14 December 1954), lawyer and author, was born in Rochester, New York, to Isaac Hays and Laura Garson, both members of prosperous families in the clothing trade. When Hays was twelve the family moved to New York City, where, with brief exceptions he lived throughout his life....

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Hill, Herbert Milton (24 Jan. 1924–15 Aug. 2005), labor and civil rights activist, was born at St. Mark’s Place Hospital in New York City, the son of Jacob Hill, a clarinet player in classical music orchestras, and Mary Gzibeck Hill, a milliner. Both were Yiddish-speaking immigrants who arrived before World War I from Russia, which then included Poland. They resided in Brooklyn. While Hill was still a boy his mother died, and he was sent to live with an uncle and aunt in Jackson Heights, Queens, before returning to his father’s home as a teenager. Seeking to make him into a pianist, his father enrolled him in Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School, noted for musical excellence. There Hill encountered members of the Young Communist League, but he was repelled by the ...

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Korematsu, Fred (30 Jan. 1919–30 March 2005), prisoner of incarceration camps for Japanese Americans during World War II and civil liberties activist, was born in Oakland, California, the third of four sons of Kakusaburo Korematsu and Kotsui Aoki, immigrants from Japan who owned a flower nursery where the family worked. Korematsu’s given name was Toyosaburo, but when one of his elementary school teachers could not pronounce his first name, she asked to call him “Fred.” He used that name throughout his life. He attended public schools in Oakland, graduating from Castlemont High School, and was involved in the Boy Scouts and the San Lorenzo Japanese Holiness Church as a youth....

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McWilliams, Carey (13 December 1905–27 June 1980), activist attorney, writer, and editor, was born in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the son of Jerry McWilliams, a cattle rancher, and Harriet Casley. He entered the University of Southern California in 1922 and pursued a liberal arts curriculum but apparently was permitted to enroll in the university’s law school without receiving a B.A. To say that McWilliams was educated in southern California means not merely that he received a J.D. from USC in 1927 but rather, and more importantly, that he learned about the particular injustices that characterized the region in which he lived and committed himself to seeking radical change in those aspects of society....

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Meiklejohn, Alexander (03 February 1872–16 December 1964), educator and civil libertarian, was born in Rochdale, England, the son of James Meiklejohn, a Scottish textile worker, and Elizabeth France. After his family migrated to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1880, Meiklejohn attended local schools and Brown University (1889–1893). He took a Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University (1897) and returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor that fall. He married Nannine LaVilla in 1902, and they had four children. Meiklejohn served as dean at Brown (1901–1912), concentrating on matters of student life and discipline, before being selected president of Amherst College in 1912....

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Lambdin P. Milligan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-75189).

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Milligan, Lambdin P. (24 March 1812–21 December 1899), lawyer and defendant in a notable U.S. Supreme Court case, was born in Belmont County, Ohio, the son of Moses Milligan and Mary Purdy, farmers. (It is not known what his middle initial stood for.) He attended only one term of a subscription school but read widely in his father’s library. He left home during his late teens and worked as a farm hand and schoolteacher for several years before choosing law over medicine as a career. In 1835 he passed his oral bar exam, scoring highest in a class of nine, which included ...

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Ozawa, Takao (15 June 1875–16 November 1936), central figure in naturalization test case, was born in Sakurai village, Ashigara-Kami District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Ozawa arrived in San Francisco at the age of nineteen. There he worked while putting himself through school and graduated from Berkeley High School. He then attended the University of California for three years. In 1906 he discontinued his studies and moved to Hawaii, where he was employed as a salesman by the Theo H. Davies Company, a large Honolulu dry goods wholesale dealer. He was married to Masako Takeya, who was also a Japanese immigrant. They had five children, all born, raised, and educated in Honolulu....

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Porter, Benjamin Faneuil (17 November 1808–04 June 1868), lawyer, politician, and reformer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Benjamin Richardson Porter, an artisan, and Eliza Seabrook Fickling. The promising son of a poor family, Porter was put to work in a counting house at age fourteen. Too restless and inquisitive to be a clerk, he was apprenticed first to a doctor and then to attorney and orator ...

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Roe, Gilbert Ernstein (07 February 1865–22 December 1929), lawyer and author, was born in Oregon, Wisconsin, the son of John Roe and Jane McKeeby, farmers. Educated at the University of Wisconsin, Roe graduated from its law school in 1890 and joined the law firm of ...

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Rogge, O. John (12 October 1903–22 March 1981), attorney, government prosecutor, and civil liberties activist, was born Oetje John Rogge in Cass County, Illinois, the son of Hermann Rogge and Lydia Ann Satorius, farmers. Schooled partly on threshing crews until his late teens, Rogge became the youngest person to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1922 at the age of nineteen. Rogge’s impressive academic achievements at Illinois were followed by a brilliant career at Harvard Law School, where he became an editor of the law review and in 1925 the youngest person to earn an LL.B. in the school’s modern era. Returning to Harvard in the early years of the Great Depression, he took a doctor of laws degree in 1932 and soon followed other recent graduates to Washington, D.C., where, inspired by professors such as ...