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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Agee, James Rufus (27 November 1909–16 May 1955), writer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Hugh James Agee, a construction company employee, and Laura Whitman Tyler. The father’s family were poorly educated mountain farmers, while the mother’s were solidly middle class. Agee was profoundly affected by his father’s death in a car accident in 1916. He idealized his absent father and struggled against his mother and her genteel and (he felt) cold values. “Agee’s mother wanted him to be clean, chaste, and sober,” the photographer ...

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Alvarez, Walter Clement (22 July 1884–16 June 1978), physician, medical researcher, and medical columnist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Luis Fernandez Alvarez, a physician, and Clementina Schuetze. When Alvarez was three, his family moved to Hawaii, where his father was a government physician in two isolated Oahu villages. Alvarez was eleven when his father established a Honolulu hospital for lepers and attempted to develop a serum to combat the disease. While assisting his father, Alvarez resolved to become a physician....

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Baker, Ray Stannard (17 April 1870–12 July 1946), journalist and author, was born in Lansing, Michigan, the son of Joseph Stannard Baker and Alice Potter. A descendant of pioneering stock, he grew up in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, where his family moved in 1875 and his father worked as a land agent. Baker later boasted that he had been brought up on the “last frontier.” His mother died in 1883, but his father, a Civil War veteran, strongly impressed Baker with his rugged character, integrity, and common sense. He attended the local schools, discovered the world of books in his parents’ library, and in 1885 enrolled at Michigan Agricultural College in East Lansing. In college Baker discovered a special liking for science courses and also edited the school newspaper. After receiving the B.S. degree in 1889, he returned home to work in his father’s land office. In January 1892 Baker entered law school at the University of Michigan but dropped out after a few months. Meanwhile, he became interested in journalism, partly as the result of a seminar at the university. In the summer of 1892 he found a job with the Chicago ...

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Barrett, John (28 November 1866–17 October 1938), commercial publicist and diplomat, was born in Grafton, Vermont, the son of Charles Barrett and Caroline Sanford. His father, reportedly shy and withdrawn, served for a time as a town official and a Republican state legislator but devoted most of his life to artistic pursuits. His mother, who was more outgoing, had a lively regard for politics, law, journalism, theology, and economics, and Barrett’s letters to her suggest she strongly influenced him....

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Bierce, Ambrose Gwinnett (24 June 1842–1914?), author and journalist, was born in the Horse Cave settlement in Meigs County, Ohio, the son of Marcus Aurelius Bierce and Laura Sherwood, farmers. The family was poor and moved several times, eventually settling in Elkhart, Indiana. His parents were strongly evangelical Protestant, but Bierce early resented his religious indoctrination and moved toward agnosticism. He briefly attended the Kentucky Military Institute in 1859. He enlisted at once in the Union army when the Civil War began in 1861 and was soon appointed a sergeant. He was later commissioned a second lieutenant and had risen to first lieutenant when invalided out of the army because of wounds in January 1865. He was brevetted major by President ...

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Bly, Nellie (05 May 1864–27 January 1922), reporter and manufacturer, was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael Cochran, a mill owner and associate justice of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and Mary Jane Kennedy Cummings. Judge Cochran, the father of fifteen children by two wives, died suddenly without a will in 1870, leaving Mary Jane with little money. Mary Jane’s abusive third marriage to John Jackson Ford ended in divorce in 1878, and “Pink,” as Elizabeth Jane was known, at age fifteen, went off to Indiana (Pa.) Normal School, adding a final ...

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Bradlee, Benjamin Crowninshield (Ben) (26 Aug. 1921–21 Oct. 2014), newspaper editor and journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Frederick Bradlee, Jr., an investment banker, and Josephine de Gersdorff Bradlee, both of whom came from wealthy and established backgrounds. Ben, as he was always known, grew up with two siblings in a comfortable home in the upper-class Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. He was educated privately, first at the Dexter School and then at St. Mark’s boarding school, where he played baseball. His upbringing included French and music lessons and frequent exposure to Boston’s cultural offerings. The family’s financial status changed dramatically, however, when they lost most of their investments following the collapse of the stock market in ...

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Brinkley, David (10 July 1920–11 June 2003), broadcast journalist, was born David McClure Brinkley in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son of William Graham Brinkley, a railroad worker, and Mary MacDonald West. Brinkley's father died when the boy was eight, leaving him in the care of a dour, deeply religious mother. Brinkley, seeking escape through reading, spent hours at the Wilmington Public Library. He also enjoyed writing. Encouraged by his high school English teacher, Brinkley worked part‐time at Wilmington's afternoon newspaper, the ...

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Brisbane, Arthur (12 December 1864–25 December 1936), journalist and newspaper editor, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Albert Brisbane, a propagator of Fourier socialism, which advocated the establishment of model utopian communities, and his second wife, Sarah White. Extensive family real estate holdings had enabled Albert Brisbane to pursue a polymathic career, and when his wife died in 1866, Albert decided to use their two sons as test cases of his ideas on education. Arthur and his brother Fowell were brought up primarily on the family estate, “Fanwood Farm,” in New Jersey, where, as Albert put it, they were encouraged to run free “like wild colts.” Reared on a diet of salad, yogurt, and diluted red wine, the boys were forbidden to play with other children, to learn to read, or to cut their blond tresses. These methods failed to improve the health of Fowell, who was mildly retarded from birth. But Arthur, who learned to read in defiance of his father’s orders, appeared to thrive....

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Bromfield, Louis (27 December 1896–18 March 1956), novelist, experimental farmer, and newspaper columnist, was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Charles Bromfield, a banker and local Democratic office holder, and Annette Marie Coulter. His father was from an old New England family, and his mother was the daughter of a pioneer family of Richland County, Ohio; both ancestries would influence his later fiction. Bromfield attended Mansfield public schools, spending summers on his mother’s family’s farm. In 1914–1915 he studied agriculture at Cornell University and then briefly attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. He then studied journalism at Columbia University until his enlistment in the U.S. Army Ambulance Service in June 1917. He served with Section 577, attached to the French army, from December 1917 to February 1919. He participated in seven major battles during World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was discharged in June 1919 while still in France....

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Brooks, Erastus (31 January 1815–25 November 1886), journalist and politician, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of the late James Brooks (c. 1788–1814), a commander of a privateer in the War of 1812 who had gone down with his ship, and Betsey Folsom. The financial problems caused by his father’s early death meant that Erastus had to begin work at age eight as a grocery store clerk in Boston. Ever enterprising, he used his pocket money to buy books and attend night school. He soon was placed in a printing office, where he learned to set type. Knowledge of this trade enabled him to earn enough money to attend classes at Brown University, although he did not complete the course of study. Eager to work for himself, he started his own newspaper, the ...

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Brothers, Joyce (20 October 1927–13 May 2013), psychologist, television and radio personality, and columnist, was born Joyce Diane Bauer in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris K. Bauer and Estelle Rappaport Bauer, a Jewish couple who shared a law practice. She and sister, Elaine, were raised in Queens, where Joyce was an honors student at Far Rockaway High School....

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Cable, George Washington (12 October 1844–31 January 1925), author, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of businessman George Washington Cable, Sr., and Rebecca Boardman. His parents were originally northerners, and this fact contributed ultimately to accusations in the southern press that Cable did not present the South accurately in his writings. In fact, Cable was deeply immersed in both the contemporary life and the rich history of Louisiana, and he was particularly sensitive to the complex interactions of race, gender, and economics in the Deep South....

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Carpenter, Frank George (08 May 1855–18 June 1924), journalist and author of travel books, was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of George F. Carpenter, an attorney, and Jeannette Reid. Frank attended public school in Mansfield and then went on to the University of Wooster, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key and graduating in 1877. He did further study at Ohio State University. In 1878 or 1879 he was hired as the Columbus (Ohio) correspondent for the ...

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Carter, Boake (28 September 1898–16 November 1944), broadcast journalist, was born Harold Thomas Henry Carter in Baku, then part of Russia (now the capital of Azerbaijan), the son of Thomas Carter, an oilman and British consul in that city, and Edith Harwood-Yarred Carter. He was educated at boarding schools in England and then spent a brief interval at Cambridge University, where he wrote for a student newspaper. Carter was impatient to enter the oil business with his father, and while making preparations to do so he worked as a stringer for the ...

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Connelly, Marc (13 December 1890–21 December 1980), playwright, screenwriter, and journalist, was born Marcus Cook Connelly in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, the son of Patrick Joseph Connelly and Mabel Fowler Cook. The elder Connelly, as a young man, had been an actor and the manager of a theatrical company. His wife, who had dared the wrath of her parents to elope with him, acted in his company. While they were on tour, their first child, a daughter, died of pneumonia. Believing that this melancholy event might not have occurred had they had a regular home life, they left the stage and settled in McKeesport, where the senior Connelly bought a hotel. Connelly’s first experience of theater came at age seven, when his parents took him to nearby Pittsburgh to see ...

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Cooke, Alistair (20 November 1908–30 March 2004), journalist, was born Alfred Cooke in Salford, a suburb of Manchester, England, to Samuel Cooke, an iron fitter, insurance salesman, and Methodist lay preacher, and Mary Byrne Cooke. His lifelong interest in America began during World War I, when he became “fascinated” by seven American soldiers billeted in his family's home in Blackpool on Britain's northwest coast (Stewart, p. 5). While at Cambridge University in 1930 he took the name “Alistair,” edited ...

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Creel, George Edward (01 December 1876–02 October 1953), journalist and government administrator, was born in Lafayette County, Missouri, the son of Henry Clay Creel and Virginia Fackler, farmers. He grew up in the Missouri towns of Independence and Odessa, where his mother supported the family by sewing, gardening, and operating a boarding house, because his father was often drunk and unemployed. As a teenager, Creel ran away from home to follow county fairs, then to roam the Southwest. In 1896 he was hired as a cub reporter by the ...

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Cronkite, Walter Leland, Jr. (04 November 1916–17 July 2009), broadcast journalist, was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the son of Walter Leland Cronkite, a dentist, and Helen Fritsche Cronkite. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Kansas City. When he was ten years old his father accepted a position with a dental college in Houston, Texas....