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Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler (03 April 1817–25 November 1884), suffragist, author, and educator, was born in Lerchenhausen, Westphalia, Germany, the daughter of Karl Giesler, a Catholic landlord and mine owner, and Elisabeth Hülswitt. She grew up comfortably and was well educated, more through learned company than tutors and schools. In fact, as a teacher in later years she would read “Fridjhoff’s saga to her pupils and recite from memory the translation she had read when eleven years old,” given to her by a prince (Heinzen, p. 3)....

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Garnet, Sarah Smith Tompkins (31 August 1831–17 September 1911), educator and suffragist, was born Minisarah J. Smith in Queens County, New York, the daughter of Sylvanus Smith and Ann Eliza Springsteel, farmers, who were of mixed Native American, black, and white descent. Although Garnet’s great-grandmother had established a school that her father attended, little is known about Garnet’s own early schooling other than that she was taught by her father. However, she was a teacher’s assistant at age fourteen with a salary of $20 per year while she studied at various normal schools in the Queens County area. By 1854 Garnet (known as Sarah) was teaching in the private African Free School in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In 1863 she became the first African-American principal appointed by the New York Public School System, serving at the all-black P.S. 80 from her appointment until her retirement in 1900....

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Howland, Emily (20 November 1827–29 June 1929), educator, suffragist, and philanthropist, was born in Sherwood, New York, the daughter of Slocum Howland, a wealthy merchant and landowner, and Hannah Tallcot. Her ancestors were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and it was in that strict tradition of speech, dress, and conduct that Emily was raised....

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Rutherford, Mildred Lewis (16 July 1851–15 August 1928), southern educator, was born in Athens, Georgia, the daughter of William R. Rutherford and Laura Rootes Cobb. Her father, a professor of mathematics at the University of Georgia, was also a slaveholder and master of a plantation in Crawford County, Georgia, at which the family spent part of each year. One of Rutherford’s uncles, ...

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May Wright Sewall. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97897).

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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....