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Sarah Platt Decker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111458).

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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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Gordon, Kate M. (14 July 1861–24 August 1932), suffragist and civic leader, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of George Hume Gordon, an educator, and Margaret Galiece. Both parents supported equal rights for women and instilled feminist principles in their children. Gordon enjoyed an affluent upbringing in New Orleans, where she received her early education and graduated from Miss Shaw’s finishing school, a private institution for young women....

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Sherwin, Belle (25 March 1868–09 July 1955), suffragist and civic leader, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Alden Sherwin, an industrialist, and Mary Frances Smith. Her father, the founder of the paint-manufacturing Sherwin-Williams Company, was an influential citizen in Cleveland, and because of his example in particular she developed a strong work ethic. From 1886 to 1890 she attended Wellesley College, where she earned a B.S. in history. Some of her professors, particularly ...

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Ueland, Clara Hampson (10 October 1860–01 March 1927), teacher, suffragist, and civic leader, was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Oscar Hampson, an unsuccessful businessman, and Eliza Osborn. Her father, discharged in 1863 from the Union army because of unspecified ailments, died a year later, leaving his impoverished widow with two small children. The trio of Hampsons sought refuge with Eliza’s sisters, initially in Faribault, Minnesota, and then in Minneapolis. They finally settled in a small apartment over a hardware store in an area of the city that prompted Maud Conkey Stockwell, a schoolmate, friend, and later a fellow suffragist, to comment, “I can remember thinking how incongruous she was with all the saloons around that district. She was dark and slim, a beauty beyond compare” (B. Ueland, “Clara,” p. 16). Despite her surroundings and continuing poverty, Clara was happy in school and a well-adjusted young woman. It says something about her character that she refused other invitations to a junior class dance to go with the only African-American boy in the school, because she felt he needed friendship and support....