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Borlaug, Norman Ernest (25 March 1914–12 September 2009), biologist, agronomist, and humanitarian, was born in Saude, Iowa, to grandchildren of Norwegian immigrants. He grew up on his family’s working farm, where he learned to fish, hunt, raise corn and oats, and tend livestock. His grandfather encouraged him to pursue education, so Norman left the family farm in 1933 to enroll in the University of Minnesota. His college years coincided with the depths of the Great Depression. To earn money, Borlaug left school in 1935 and found employment with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the CCC he saw the effect of starvation first hand, and this experience affected him deeply. Long before “food security” became a common phrase, Borlaug knew its significance. In 1937 he graduated with a B.S. in forestry from the College of Agriculture and secured a job with the United States Forest Service. In 1938 he married former classmate Margaret Gibson. The couple had three children....

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Oscar L. Chapman Testifying before Senate Interior Committee, 1950. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94480).

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Chapman, Oscar Littleton (22 October 1896–06 February 1978), humanitarian, politician, and secretary of the interior, was born in Halifax County, Virginia, the son of James Jackson Chapman and Rosa Blount, farmers. Portending his future liberalism, young Chapman rebelled against his southern heritage, choosing a picture of ...

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Harrison, Tillson Lever (07 January 1881–10 January 1947), physician, humanitarian, and bigamist, was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, the son of Henry Bailey Harrison, a banker, and Harriett Adele Tillson. Harrison's maternal grandfather was the town's wealthy patriarch, Edwin “E.D.” Tillson, whose company was the precursor of the Quaker Oats Company of Canada. Harrison enjoyed a charmed life, regularly winning prizes at county fairs for excellence in the poultry that he raised on E.D.'s experimental farm. In 1895 Harrison ran away to join the Twenty‐second Oxford Rifles militia, but was returned home when it was discovered that he was underage....

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Labouisse, Henry Richardson (11 February 1904–25 March 1987), statesman and humanitarian, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Henry Richardson Labouisse and Frances Devereaux Huger (occupations unknown). Labouisse graduated from Princeton in 1926 and from Harvard Law School in 1929. He practiced law in New York City from 1929 until 1941 and married Elizabeth Scriven Clark in 1935. The couple had one daughter. Elizabeth Labouisse died in 1945. The ...

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Mayo, Sara (26 May 1869–07 March 1930), physician and humanitarian reformer, was born Sara Tew Mayo on a plantation in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, near the town of Vidalia, the daughter of George Spencer Mayo, a lawyer, and Emily Tew. After the death of her parents, Sara spent her early years in New Orleans at the home of her father’s cousin, Judge William Brainerd Spencer. After receiving her primary education in the city’s public schools, she attended Millwood High School in Jackson, a town north of New Orleans close to the Mississippi border. As a child, Sara showed an interest in nursing and medicine by constantly ministering to her dolls and pets. Determined to become a physician, she applied to Tulane University Medical School but was rejected. Undeterred, she left for Philadelphia, where she entered Woman’s Medical College, graduating in 1898. She then returned to New Orleans, where she was to practice medicine for the next thirty-two years....

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Nicholson, Timothy (02 November 1828–15 September 1924), Quaker reformer and printer, was born in Perquimans County, North Carolina, the son of Josiah Nicholson, a teacher and farmer, and Anna White. Both parents came from families long prominent in Quaker affairs in North Carolina, and by Timothy Nicholson’s own account, their influence and that of Quaker neighbors was such that he never questioned Quaker teachings. He was educated in the Quaker Belvidere Academy in Perquimans County and at the Friends Boarding School (now Moses Brown School) in Providence, Rhode Island. He married twice, first in 1853 to Sarah N. White, who died in 1865, and then in 1868 to her sister, Mary White. There were six children by the first marriage and two by the second....