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Ralph Waldo Emerson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98114).

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Emerson, Ralph Waldo (25 May 1803–27 April 1882), lecturer and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Emerson, a Congregational minister, and Ruth Haskins. Ralph was one of eight children. His father was a liberal, Concord-born minister of the First Church in Boston and active in the city’s intellectual and social life, being an editor of the ...

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Kirk, Russell Amos (19 October 1918–29 April 1994), political theorist, conservative writer, and lecturer, was born in Plymouth, Michigan, to Russell Andrew Kirk, a railroad engineer, and Marjorie Pierce Kirk. In his youth Russell spent a good deal of time conversing with his grandfather Frank Pierce, who stimulated his interest in better understanding the world around him. Equally influential to Russell’s intellectual development were his annual summer visits to his mother’s relatives in Mecosta, a small village in central Michigan. Dwelling on the lives of his ancestors, whose portraits donned the walls of his great-grandmother’s home, Russell developed an interest in history, especially connections between the past and the present....

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Smith, Elizabeth Oakes (08 August 1806–15 November 1893), author and lecturer, was born Elizabeth Oakes Prince near North Yarmouth, Maine, the daughter of David Cushing Prince, part owner of a trading ship, and Sophia Blanchard. Elizabeth exhibited a remarkable intelligence at an early age. When she was two years old, she insisted that she be allowed to accompany her sister to school, where she learned how to read. While still a child, she taught Sunday school and tutored her male cousins in their college courses. She yearned for a college education to prepare her for a career as a teacher, but her mother denied her request, saying, “No daughter of mine is going to be a schoolma’am.” Smith regretted her lack of formal education for the rest of her life. This early disappointment shaped her career as a lecturer and campaigner for women’s rights....

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Warner, Charles Dudley (12 September 1829–20 October 1900), author and editor, was born in Plainfield, Massachusetts, the son of Justus Warner and Sylvia Hitchcock, farmers. In 1837, three years after her husband died, Sylvia Warner took her two sons to a guardian in Charlemont, Massachusetts, and, in 1841, on to her brother in Cazenovia, New York. Warner attended classes at the Oneida Conference Seminary in Cazenovia, enrolled at Hamilton College, and graduated in 1851 with a B.A. While still a student he published articles in the ...