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Gordon, Laura de Force (17 August 1838–05 April 1907), suffragist, newspaper publisher, and attorney, was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Abram de Force and Catherine Doolittle Allan. Her mother helped support the family through needlework because her father suffered from rheumatism and could not work. Gordon was educated in the public schools, and at age seventeen she changed her religious affiliation from Congregationalist to Christian Spiritualist. She soon began a career as a traveling trance speaker, touring New York and her native Pennsylvania. Her lectures were well received by audiences and the press, and she expanded her territory in the 1860s to include Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey....

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Waite, Catharine Van Valkenburg (30 January 1829–09 November 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and writer, was born in Dumfries, Canada West, the daughter of Joseph Van Valkenburg and Margaret Page, presumably farmers. Very little is known about Van Valkenburg’s early schooling. When she was seventeen, her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Fort Madison, Iowa. She studied at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and then at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, graduating in 1853. In 1854 she married Charles Burlingame Waite, a judge whom she had met at Knox. The couple had six children, five of whom survived childhood....