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Susan B. Anthony. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-23933).

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Anthony, Susan B. (15 February 1820–13 March 1906), reformer and organizer for woman suffrage, was born Susan Brownell Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, the daughter of Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read. Her father built the town’s first cotton mill. When Susan, the second of eight children, was six, the family moved to Battenville, New York, north of Albany, where Daniel prospered as manager of a larger mill and could send Susan and her sister to a Friends’ seminary near Philadelphia. His good fortune, however, collapsed with the financial crisis of 1837; the mill closed, Susan left boarding school, the family lost its house, and for nearly a decade the family squeaked by, assisted by Susan’s wages as a teacher. Looking for a new start in 1845, Daniel moved to a farm near Rochester, the city that would be Susan’s permanent address for the rest of her life....

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Inez Milholland Boissevain Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0661-B).

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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Ferrin, Mary Upton (27 April 1810–11 April 1881), suffragist and women's rights advocate, suffragist and women’s rights advocate, was born in South Danvers (now Danvers), Massachusetts, the daughter of Jesse Upton, a farmer and tavern keeper, and his second wife Elizabeth (or Eliza) Wyman Wood. Other than her marriage at age thirty-five to Jesse C. Ferrin, a union that inadvertently led to her personal crusade for married women’s property rights, few details of Ferrin’s personal life have been recorded. Jesse Ferrin, identified on the marriage certificate only as a grocer, and Mary Upton were married in 1845 in Danvers. Just three years later, in 1848, Mary sought the advice of a Salem lawyer, Samuel Merritt, regarding her rights to a divorce and her ability to keep her own property. Merritt advised Ferrin that under common law her husband held legal rights to all her personal property including improvements on real estate she brought to the marriage....

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Gram Swing, Betty (16 March 1893–01 September 1969), militant suffragist and women’s rights advocate, was born Myrtle Evelyn Gram in Omaha, Nebraska, the fifth of seven children of Danish immigrants Andreas Peter Gram and Karen Jensen. When their family farm proved unprofitable around 1905, the Grams moved to Portland, Oregon, where Andreas ran a small grocery store and taught Myrtle Danish folk songs that were the foundation of her lifelong love of singing and music....

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Hooker, Isabella Beecher (22 February 1822–25 January 1907), suffragist, writer, and women's rights advocate, suffragist, writer, and women’s rights advocate, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the daughter of Lyman Beecher, a Presbyterian minister and evangelist, and his second wife, Harriet Porter. At age ten Isabella moved with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Lyman became the first president of Lane Theological Seminary. After her mother’s death three years later, Isabella returned to Connecticut to study at the Hartford Female Seminary, founded by her half sisters ...

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Anne Martin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112008).

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Martin, Anne Henrietta (30 September 1875–15 April 1951), suffragist and feminist essayist, was born in Empire City, Nevada, the daughter of William O’Hara Martin, a state senator, merchant, and Reno bank president, and Louise Stadtmuller. She attended Bishop Whitaker’s School for Girls in Reno, then the University of Nevada (1892–1894), where she received a B.A. in history. After a second B.A. in 1896 and an M.A. in history in 1897, both from Stanford University, she founded the history department at the University of Nevada and headed it until 1899. From 1899 to 1901 she continued her studies at Chase School of Art, Columbia University, and the Universities of Leipzig and London; she then lectured in art history at Nevada until 1903....

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Pollitzer, Anita Lily (31 October 1894–03 July 1975), suffragist and feminist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Gustave Morris Pollitzer, a cotton exporter and civic reformer, and Clara Guinzburg, a former German teacher. Pollitzer, one of four siblings, grew up in a cultured, upper-class environment. Both sets of grandparents had immigrated to America in the mid-nineteenth century, her father’s parents from Vienna, her mother’s from Prague. As a child Pollitzer enjoyed genteel pursuits, and by the time she entered school she could already read and write and could also play the piano. After graduating from Memminger High and Normal School in 1913, she spent a summer studying at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where she discovered an interest in art. That fall she entered Teachers College, Columbia University, from which she graduated with a B.S. in art and education in 1916....

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Stantial, Edna Lamprey (22 Feb. 1897–10 Mar. 1985), suffragist, archivist of the women’s suffrage movement, and women’s rights activist, was born Edna Frances Lamprey in Reading, Massachusetts, the daughter of Frank and Mollie McClelland Stantial. She grew up in nearby Melrose, graduated from Melrose High School in ...

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Stevens, Doris Caroline (26 October 1888–22 March 1963), suffragist and feminist activist, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Henry Hendebourck Stevens, a small businessman, and Caroline Koopman. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1911, Stevens did settlement work in Cleveland, Ohio, taught high school for two years, and then abandoned regular employment to become a full-time organizer for the Congressional Union, the militant suffrage organization. In 1914 she caught the eye of ...

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Emmeline B. Wells. Photograph by C. R. Savage. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111862).

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Wells, Emmeline B. (29 February 1828–25 April 1921), suffragist and Mormon feminist activist, was born Emmeline Blanche Woodward in Petersham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David Woodward and Diadama Hare, farmers. Marital relations were a defining characteristic of Emmeline’s life. As a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), she married at age fifteen fellow church member James Harris, also fifteen. By the next year, she had buried her first child and had been deserted by her teenage husband. Thereafter, Emmeline chose father figures as husbands. In 1845 she married Newel K. Whitney, a prominent Mormon bishop thirty-three years her senior, who was already the husband of two living wives. She wrote Whitney in 1847: “Like as a vine entwineth itself around an ...

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Sue Shelton White. Sue S. White, head and shoulders portrait, facing slightly right, c. 1920. Photographic print. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108594).

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White, Sue Shelton (25 May 1887–06 May 1943), feminist, suffragist, and attorney, was born in Henderson, Tennessee, to James Shelton White and Mary Calista Swain, both educators. The family moved to the small town of Montezuma where James and Mary continued to teach and where James was active in the Methodist ministry. In 1879 the family moved a few miles north to the slightly larger but still rural town of Henderson, where the couple also taught and James became superintendent of schools. After James's death in 1893, Mary struggled to support the family. She sold pianos and books, gave piano and voice lessons, and wrote for the local newspaper while she supervised and tutored her own children. Mary made few gender distinctions in the chores and duties she assigned to her sons and daughters, and young Sue, named for her father's sister, spent much of her time following her older brothers around and caring for her younger brother. Sue White's lifelong sensitivity on racial issues can be attributed to her mother's activities during these years and the family's residence in what Sue described as a "twilight zone" between white Henderson and an African American community known as "Jaybird." Sue was fourteen years old when her mother died in 1901....