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Cornelia Bryce Pinchot As hostess to a Society of American Foresters' baked apple party, 1950. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100622).

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Pinchot, Cornelia Bryce (26 August 1881–09 September 1960), politician and advocate of progressive causes, was born Cornelia Elizabeth Bryce in Newport, Rhode Island, the youngest daughter of Lloyd Stephens Bryce and Edith Cooper. Her father had been a Democratic congressman, a novelist, an intimate and political confidante of ...

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Thompson Patterson, Louise (09 September 1901–27 August 1999), cultural and political radical, activist, and feminist, was born Louise Alone Toles in Chicago, the daughter of William Toles, a bartender, and Lula Brown Toles. In 1904, her parents separated, and in the next ten years she lived throughout the Northwest with her mother and her stepfather, William Thompson. Often the only black child in town, she was the target of vicious racial insults. In an effort to maintain her self-respect, she strove to excel in school. In 1919, she enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley. There she attended a lecture by ...

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Tillmon, Johnnie (10 April 1926–22 November 1995), welfare rights leader and community activist, was born Johnnie Lee Percy in Scott, Arkansas, the eldest child of John Percy, a sharecropper, and Gussie Danforth, a field hand. When Johnnie was five years old, her mother died during childbirth, and her father remarried a family friend who helped raise her and her two younger brothers. Like many black families in the pre–civil rights South, hers was poor. They moved to several towns in rural Arkansas as her father pursued more profitable sharecropping arrangements. At the age of seven, she began picking cotton to earn extra money....

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Weil, Gertrude (11 Dec. 1879–30 May 1971), activist for women’s suffrage, social welfare, Zionism, and civil rights, was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Henry Weil and Mina Rosenthal. Weil’s father and grandparents were antebellum Jewish immigrants from rural Württemberg and Bavaria. Settling in a southern mill and market town, they rose from peddlers to prosperous storekeepers to prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Family wealth allowed Weil the autonomy to pursue a career of public service. Weil’s parents set examples of civic engagement, notably her mother who joined women emerging from domesticity and religious societies into civic organizations. After attending local public schools, the sixteen-year-old Weil was sent by her progressive parents to the coeducational Horace Mann School in New York. In ...