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James Russell Lowell. Engraving, c. 1894, from a drawing by S. W. Rowse, 1855. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100831).

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Lowell, James Russell (22 February 1819–12 August 1891), author and diplomat, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Lowell, a liberal Congregational minister, and Harriet Brackett Spence. Among New Englanders who were apt to take ancestry seriously, the Lowell family was already firmly established in the region’s ecclesiastical and legal annals. During the nineteenth century the Lowell name became synonymous with manufacturing wealth and State Street trusts, but Charles Lowell’s descendants benefited little from this tradition. Their area of prominence was in literature; both James Russell Lowell’s sister Mary Lowell Putnam and brother ...

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Wilde, Richard Henry (24 September 1789–10 September 1847), poet and scholar, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Richard Wilde, an ironmonger and hardware merchant, and Mary Newett. His mother’s family was prominent in linen weaving and dying. Wilde’s father settled in Baltimore, Maryland, in January 1797. After the death of his father in October 1802, Wilde moved to Augusta, Georgia, where his older brother was established, and went to work in a store owned by Irishman Captain John Cormick. In 1803 Wilde’s mother joined her sons and opened her own store, employing Wilde. Throughout his life, Wilde remained Roman Catholic, his mother always Anglican....

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Woodberry, George Edward (12 May 1855–02 January 1930), man of letters and teacher, was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Elliott Woodberry, a shipmaster, and Sarah Dane Tuck. His first American ancestor was William Woodberry, who came to Salem, Massachusetts, from Somersetshire, England, in 1628 and was one of the founders of Beverly. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, Woodberry entered Harvard College and graduated in 1877 with highest honors in philosophy. He wrote that ...