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Anthony, Susan B. (15 February 1820–13 March 1906), reformer and organizer for woman suffrage, was born Susan Brownell Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, the daughter of Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read. Her father built the town’s first cotton mill. When Susan, the second of eight children, was six, the family moved to Battenville, New York, north of Albany, where Daniel prospered as manager of a larger mill and could send Susan and her sister to a Friends’ seminary near Philadelphia. His good fortune, however, collapsed with the financial crisis of 1837; the mill closed, Susan left boarding school, the family lost its house, and for nearly a decade the family squeaked by, assisted by Susan’s wages as a teacher. Looking for a new start in 1845, Daniel moved to a farm near Rochester, the city that would be Susan’s permanent address for the rest of her life....

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Blatch, Harriot Stanton (20 January 1856–20 November 1940), woman suffrage leader, was born Harriot Eaton Stanton in Seneca Falls, New York, the daughter of Henry Brewster Stanton, a lawyer, state senator, and abolitionist, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader in the women’s rights movement. Inspiration germinated within the Stanton household. Elizabeth Cady Stanton had been one of the initiators in writing the Declaration of Sentiments that was presented at the historic first convention for women’s rights held in Seneca Falls in 1848. Harriot, the sixth of seven siblings, idolized her mother, a woman with a great imagination and a good amount of common sense who passed her fervor for the cause of woman suffrage on to her younger daughter....

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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Breckinridge, Madeline McDowell (20 May 1872–25 November 1920), woman suffragist and Progressive reformer, was born at Woodlake in Franklin County, Kentucky, the daughter of Henry Clay McDowell, a lawyer and businessman, and Anne Clay. Members from both sides of her family had been prominent since Kentucky’s earliest years. In 1882 her family moved to Ashland, the estate of her great-grandfather ...

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Catt, Carrie Chapman (09 February 1859–09 March 1947), suffragist leader and peace activist, was born Carrie Clinton Lane in Ripon, Wisconsin, the daughter of Lucius Lane and Maria Clinton, farmers. In 1866 the family moved to a farm outside Charles City, Iowa, and Carrie thereafter identified herself as an Iowan. She was graduated from Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1880 with a B.S. She was a feminist long before she knew the word; at thirteen she was indignant when she realized that her mother could not vote in the presidential election. At college she organized a debate on woman suffrage and broke tradition by joining a public-speaking society. After graduation she read law for a year, then taught high school in Mason City, Iowa. She soon became the school’s principal as well as the superintendent of schools. In these posts she developed her organizational and administrative talents. They were the keystones to her success as a leader of women for the next sixty years....

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Decker, Sarah Sophia Chase Platt (01 October 1855–07 July 1912), clubwoman, suffragist, and community activist, was born in McIndoe Falls, Vermont, the daughter of Edwin Chase, a lumber dealer, paper manufacturer, and Baptist abolitionist known as the “Fighting Deacon,” and Lydia Maria Adams. The family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, when Sarah was quite young. She graduated from high school in Holyoke and while still in her teens became active in community work as a trustee of a fund to aid the poor. In 1875 she married a Holyoke merchant, Charles B. Harris....

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Duniway, Abigail Jane Scott (22 October 1834–11 October 1915), Oregon pioneer and suffragist, was born in Tazewell County, Illinois, the daughter of John Tucker Scott and Ann Roelofson, farmers. Duniway attended school sporadically, restricted by her responsibilities on her parents’ farm. In March 1852, in spite of his wife’s hesitations, John Scott decided to move his family to Oregon. With thirty others, in a caravan of five wagons, the family set off on the 2,400-mile trek. Ann Scott died of cholera in June; her three-year-old son Willie passed away two months later. By October the party had reached Lafayette, near Salem, Oregon, where they settled. Abigail taught school in the neighboring village of Eola and worked on her father’s farm. In August 1853 she married Benjamin Charles Duniway, a farmer who had moved to Oregon three years earlier; they had six children. The early years of her marriage were especially hard on Abigail, who bore two children in quick succession and also was obliged to take on many of the physically taxing, traditionally male tasks on the farm. The family moved to a farm near Lafayette in 1857. Duniway’s first novel, ...

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Hinchey, Margaret (10 December 1870–29 February 1944), suffragist and labor leader, was born in Limerick, Ireland, the daughter of Thomas Hinchey and Mary Maloney. Known informally as “Maggie,” she immigrated to New York City in 1897. Little record survives of her early life, but irregular spelling and grammar in her later correspondence suggest limited formal education....

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Howe, Julia Ward (27 May 1819–17 October 1910), poet, author, and woman suffrage leader, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Ward, Jr., a Wall Street stockbroker, and Julia Rush, a poet. Julia was five when her mother died of tuberculosis. She was educated both by tutors at home and at schools for young ladies until the age of sixteen. Her father died in 1839. Visiting Boston in 1841, she met Dr. ...

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Johnston, Mary (21 November 1870–09 May 1936), author and suffragette, was born in Buchanan, Botetourt County, Virginia, the daughter of John William Johnston, a major in the Confederate army who, following the Civil War, became president of Georgia Pacific Railway, and Elizabeth Dixon Alexander. Her mother died in 1889, leaving the role of family caretaker to Mary, who acted as surrogate mother to her siblings. Her father’s career necessitated temporary residency, for varying periods of time, in Birmingham, New York City, and Richmond. In 1898 Johnston began her long publishing career, motivated in part by an 1895 reversal of family fortune....

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Lape, Esther Everett (8 Oct. 1881–17 May 1981), journalist, World Court advocate, and medical care activist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Henry Lape and Esther E. Butler, both Quakers. Receiving her primary and secondary education in public schools in Philadelphia, she attended Bryn Mawr College on a scholarship but transferred to Wellesley College where she received a bachelor’s degree in ...

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Livermore, Mary (19 December 1820–23 May 1905), reformer, writer, and suffrage leader, was born Mary Ashton Rice in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Timothy Rice, a laborer, and Zebiah Vose Glover Ashton. Mary’s family had a strong sense of patriotism and adhered to the strict tenets of a Calvinist Baptist faith. Fear of eternal damnation caused Mary such great pain that she found passages in the Bible to disprove this doctrine. She often pretended to be a preacher by delivering sermons to playmates. At the age of fourteen she attended a Baptist female seminary in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she studied French, Latin, and metaphysics. Following her graduation in 1836 she joined the teaching faculty of the school....

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Martin, Anne Henrietta (30 September 1875–15 April 1951), suffragist and feminist essayist, was born in Empire City, Nevada, the daughter of William O’Hara Martin, a state senator, merchant, and Reno bank president, and Louise Stadtmuller. She attended Bishop Whitaker’s School for Girls in Reno, then the University of Nevada (1892–1894), where she received a B.A. in history. After a second B.A. in 1896 and an M.A. in history in 1897, both from Stanford University, she founded the history department at the University of Nevada and headed it until 1899. From 1899 to 1901 she continued her studies at Chase School of Art, Columbia University, and the Universities of Leipzig and London; she then lectured in art history at Nevada until 1903....

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McCormick, Ruth Hanna (27 March 1880–31 December 1944), congresswoman and political leader, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Marcus Alonzo “Mark” Hanna, a businessman and politician, and Charlotte Augusta Rhodes. In 1896 Mark Hanna, Republican national chairman, managed William McKinley’s presidential campaign, in which Ruth participated. Hanna was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1897, and Ruth worked as his private secretary on Capitol Hill. Her marriage in 1903 to ...

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Minor, Virginia Louise (27 March 1824–14 August 1894), suffragist and reformer, was born in Goochland County or Caroline County, Virginia, the daughter of Warner Minor, a landowner, and Maria Timberlake. When she was two years old the family moved to Charlottesville, where her father took a supervisory position in the dormitories of the University of Virginia. She spent a short time in a local female academy but otherwise was educated at home. In 1843 Minor married an attorney and distant cousin, Francis Minor; they had one child. She went to live with him in Mississippi, and a year later the couple moved to St. Louis....

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Park, Maud Wood (25 January 1871–08 May 1955), suffragist and first president of the League of Women Voters, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Rodney Wood, a private detective, and Mary Russell Collins. She was educated in Boston schools and at St. Agnes School in Albany, New York. After teaching in Bedford and Chelsea, Massachusetts, from 1890 to 1895, she attended Radcliffe College and graduated with highest honors in three years (1898). She was a leading spirit among Radcliffe suffragists, inviting ...

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Sewall, May Eliza Wright (27 May 1844–23 July 1920), suffragist and educator, was born in Greenfield, Wisconsin, the daughter of Philander Montague Wright, a schoolteacher and farmer, and Mary Weeks Brackett. Sewall was taught at home by her father and in local public schools. She graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with the degree mistress of science in 1866 and master of arts in 1871. She went on to pursue a career in teaching in Corinth, Mississippi, Plainwell, Michigan, and Frankfort, Indiana. In 1872 Sewall married Edwin W. Thompson and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where both taught high school; they had no children. Following Thompson’s death in 1875, she continued to teach, and in 1880 she married Theodore Lovett Sewall, a graduate of Harvard College and founder of a classical school for boys in Indianapolis; they had no children. In 1882 she and her husband founded the Girls’ Classical School of Indianapolis, where Sewall continued as principal for twelve years after the death of her husband in 1895....

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Shaw, Anna Howard (14 February 1847–02 July 1919), minister and woman suffragist, was born at Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the daughter of Thomas Shaw, a wallpaper maker, and Nicolas Stott. The family moved to Massachusetts in 1851. In 1859 Thomas Shaw settled his wife and younger children in an unfinished cabin on Michigan’s frontier while he returned east. Anna’s bitter recollections of the responsibilities that fell to her in the next decade make up the most powerful section of the memoirs she published as ...

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Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (12 November 1815–26 October 1902), woman suffragist and writer, was born in Johnstown, New York, the daughter of Margaret Livingston and Daniel Cady, a distinguished lawyer, state assemblyman, and congressman. She received her education at the Johnstown Academy and Emma Willard...

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Wells, Emmeline B. (29 February 1828–25 April 1921), suffragist and Mormon feminist activist, was born Emmeline Blanche Woodward in Petersham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David Woodward and Diadama Hare, farmers. Marital relations were a defining characteristic of Emmeline’s life. As a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), she married at age fifteen fellow church member James Harris, also fifteen. By the next year, she had buried her first child and had been deserted by her teenage husband. Thereafter, Emmeline chose father figures as husbands. In 1845 she married Newel K. Whitney, a prominent Mormon bishop thirty-three years her senior, who was already the husband of two living wives. She wrote Whitney in 1847: “Like as a vine entwineth itself around an ...