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Abell, Arunah Sheperdson (10 August 1806–19 April 1888), journalist and publisher, was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Caleb Abell, a quartermaster in the War of 1812, and Elona Sheperdson. Abell left school at age fourteen and worked for two years in a shop that dealt in West Indian goods. In 1822 he was apprenticed to the ...

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Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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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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Adams, Samuel Hopkins (26 January 1871–16 November 1958), muckraker and writer, was born in Dunkirk, New York, the son of Myron Adams, Jr., a minister, and Hester Rose Hopkins. He attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, from 1887 to 1891, with a semester at Union College. After graduation he was a devoted alumnus, serving as trustee (1905–1916), winning election to Phi Beta Kappa (1907), and receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1926....

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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).

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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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Allen, Young John William (03 January 1836–30 May 1907), missionary, educator, and journalist in China, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten. Because of the early death of both parents, Allen was raised by an aunt and uncle, Wiley and Nancy (Wooten) Hutchins, who lived in Meriwether County, Georgia. He received a sizable inheritance from his father, which financed his education at several small private schools near his home in Starrsville, Georgia, including the Baptist-run Brownwood Institute in LaGrange, Georgia, and the Morgan H. Looney schools in Palmetto, Georgia. His inheritance also allowed him to collect a personal library, which made him the envy of his classmates as early as 1850, when he was only fourteen years old. He began college work at Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1853 but transferred to Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, in the spring of 1854. At Emory, Allen acquired the secular learning of the European tradition as well as knowledge of Christianity. His extracurricular activities included membership in a debating society and religious study groups, both of which prepared him for his subsequent careers in China....

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Alsop, Joseph (11 October 1910–28 August 1989), journalist, was born Joseph Wright Alsop V in Avon, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Wright Alsop IV and Corinne Robinson, wealthy farmers. Both parents claimed distinguished bloodlines. Corinne Robinson Alsop’s uncle was Theodore Roosevelt; her cousin was ...

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Alsop, Stewart (17 May 1914–26 May 1974), political columnist, was born Stewart Johonnot Oliver Alsop in Avon, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Wright Alsop, an insurance executive, and Corinne Douglas Robinson. His father was a member of the Connecticut legislature for many terms and a public official. His mother, a niece of ...

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Walter C. Alvarez. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B029601).

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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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Ames, Mary Clemmer (06 May 1831?–18 August 1884), journalist and author, was born Mary Clemmer in Utica, New York, the daughter of Abraham Clemmer, a merchant, and Margaret Kneale. Her father came from an Alsatian Huguenot family that had settled in this country before the American Revolution, and her mother had emigrated from the British Isle of Man in 1827. She received her formal education at the Westfield Academy in Westfield, Massachusetts, where the family moved about 1847; she attended the academy probably until 1850. A poem that she wrote at the academy was published in the ...

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Anderson, Paul Y. (29 August 1893–06 December 1938), journalist, was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of William Holston Anderson, a stonecutter, and Elizabeth Dill Haynes, a schoolteacher. Anderson was three years old when his father died in an accident, and his mother was left as sole support for him and his two young sisters. He worked his way through high school, and in 1911, at the age of eighteen, he began his career in journalism when he joined the staff of the ...

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Antheil, George (08 July 1900–12 February 1959), composer and writer, was born Georg Johann Carl Antheil in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Henry William Antheil, a merchant, and Wilhelmina Huse. Antheil’s parents were German immigrants who had done well enough to be able to afford him an economically secure childhood in Trenton. His musical training included private study in piano with Constantin von Sternberg in Philadelphia and from 1919 to 1921 with ...

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Apple, R. W. (20 Nov. 1934–4 Oct. 2006), reporter and newspaper editor, was born Raymond Walter Apple, Jr. in Akron, Ohio, to grocer Raymond Walter Apple, Sr. and Julia (Albrecht) Apple. His parents expected that “Johnny” would follow his father and run the Acme supermarket chain in northern Ohio, but he discovered ...

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Asbury, Herbert (01 September 1891–24 February 1963), journalist and popular historian, was born in Farmington, Missouri, the son of Samuel Lester Asbury, a surveyor and city clerk, and Ellen N. Prichard. His grandfather and great-grandfather were Methodist ministers. Asbury claimed that his great-great uncle was ...

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Ayer, Harriet Hubbard (27 June 1849–23 November 1903), businesswoman and journalist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Henry George Hubbard, a real estate dealer, and Juliet Elvira Smith. Her father died when Harriet was three years old, but his legacy of valuable land purchases enabled the family to live comfortably. Poor health limited Harriet’s early education to private tutors. Although Episcopalian, she entered the Catholic Convent of the Sacred Heart at the age of twelve, graduating three years later....

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Bagby, George William (13 August 1828–29 November 1883), journalist and humorist, was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, the son of George Bagby, a merchant, and Virginia Young Evans. A frail constitution forced Virginia Bagby to move to the mountain town of Covington, where she died when George was eight years old. Bagby’s father, who owned a general merchandise store in Lynchburg, sent him and his younger sister to live on the Cumberland County plantation of their aunt, Elisabeth Hobson. In 1843, at the age of fifteen, Bagby entered Delaware College. He then studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1849....

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Ray Stannard Baker Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0825).