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Grace Abbott Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111723).

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Julie Longo and Sandra F. VanBurkleo

Abbott, Grace (17 November 1878–19 June 1939), social worker and administrator, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the daughter of Othman Ali Abbott, a lawyer and politician, and Elizabeth Griffin, a high school principal. The Abbott household provided an intellectually stimulating environment, emphasizing reading, discussion, and formal education for all four children. Othman Abbott encouraged both Grace and her older sister ...

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Albright, Horace Marden (06 January 1890–28 March 1987), park service director, was born in Bishop, California, the son of George Albright, a mining engineer, and Mary Marden. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1912 with a B.A. in economics. While a law student at Berkeley, Albright worked as a reader for Professor Adolph C. Miller. In 1913, when Secretary of the Interior ...

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Alexander, Will Winton (15 July 1884–13 January 1956), leading southern liberal, expert on race relations, and member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal administration, leading southern liberal, expert on race relations, and member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal administration, was born near Morrisville, Missouri, the son of William Baxter Alexander, a farmer, and Arabella A. Winton, a schoolteacher. Alexander received a B.A. from Scarritt-Morrisville College in 1908 and continued his studies at Vanderbilt University, where he received a Bachelor of Divinity in 1912. Ordained a Methodist minister in 1911, Alexander held pastorates at Nashville (1911–1916) and Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1916–1917). In 1914 he married Mabelle A. Kinkead; they had three sons....

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Altmeyer, Arthur Joseph (08 May 1891–17 October 1972), first Social Security commissioner, was born in De Pere, Wisconsin, the son of John G. Altmeyer and Carrie Smith. While sorting mail as an office boy in his uncle’s law firm, Altmeyer came across a pamphlet describing Wisconsin’s landmark Workmen’s Compensation Act, the first of its kind legislated in this country. In retrospect, Altmeyer claimed that this incident sparked his lifelong interest in social welfare and labor legislation. On entering the University of Wisconsin, he took courses from ...

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Anderson, Joseph Inslee (05 November 1757–17 April 1837), jurist, U.S. senator, and Treasury official, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Anderson and Elizabeth Inslee (occupations unknown). When not yet twenty, Anderson enlisted in the Continental army as a private and rose to the rank of major by the war’s end. He was regimental paymaster during much of the war, and his experience in that capacity served him well in positions he held later. He was with ...

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Anderson, Mary (27 August 1872–29 January 1964), labor leader and federal administrator, was born in Lidköping, Sweden, the daughter of Magnus Anderson and Matilda Johnson, farmers. She received her only formal education at a local Lutheran school. Inspired by letters from her older sister Anna who had moved to the United States, Mary and her sister Hilda traveled to Ludington, Michigan, in 1889. Sixteen years old when she arrived in America, Anderson struggled to learn English while she worked as a dishwasher and cook in a boardinghouse for lumber workers....

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Anslinger, Harry Jacob (20 May 1892–14 November 1975), U.S. commissioner of narcotics, was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert J. Anslinger, a barber, and Christiana Fladtt. After attending Altoona Business College and a two-year program at Pennsylvania State University, Anslinger worked as a silent-movie pianist, railroad policeman, and state police administrator before serving as an ordnance inspector and earning a commission in the Ordnance Reserve during World War I. In 1918 he joined the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, serving in Germany and Holland (where he acted as liaison with the deposed kaiser’s staff) until 1923, when he was posted as consul to La Guaira, Venezuela, and, in 1926, to Nassau. In 1923 he married Martha Denniston, a relative of the Mellon banking family. Anslinger adopted her son from a previous marriage; they had no children of their own....

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Arnold, Thurman (02 June 1891–07 November 1969), lawyer, social and economic theorist, and government official, was born Thurman Wesley Arnold in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of Constantine Peter Arnold, a prominent attorney and rancher, and Annie Brockway. After spending his youth in what he would later remember “as a time that Tom Sawyer would have envied,” Arnold enrolled, for one year, at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1907. After a college career characterized by loneliness, he graduated from Princeton University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in 1911. Arnold received his LL.D. from Harvard Law School in 1914 and then entered legal practice in Chicago with the firm of Adams, Follansbee, Hawley, and Shorey. In 1916 he established the firm of O’Bryan, Waite, and Arnold. Eight months later his artillery battery of the Illinois National Guard was mobilized for duty with General ...

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Austin, Jonathan Loring (02 January 1748–10 May 1826), government agent and state official, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Austin, a merchant and politician, and Elizabeth Waldo. Austin graduated from Harvard College in 1766 and soon began a merchant career in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and neighboring Kittery, Maine....

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Ballantine, Arthur Atwood (03 August 1883–10 October 1960), corporate lawyer and Treasury official, was born in Oberlin, Ohio, the son of William Gay Ballantine, a professor and president of Oberlin College, and Emma Atwood. He graduated with honors from Harvard College (1904) and Harvard Law School (1907). On 19 June 1907 he married Helen Bailey Graves; they had five children....

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Julius H. Barnes. Right, with Thomas Lamont, left, and Silas Strawn. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92371).

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Barnes, Julius Howland (02 February 1873–17 April 1959), industrialist and government official, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Lucien Jerome Barnes, a banker, and Julia Hill. Moving with his family, he attended public schools in Washington, D.C., and Duluth, Minnesota. Following his father’s death in 1886, Barnes left school to take a job as office boy with the Duluth grain brokerage firm of Wardell Ames. There he rose rapidly, becoming president of the company in 1910 and subsequently reorganizing it as the Barnes-Ames Company. By 1915 Barnes-Ames was the world’s largest grain exporter, and Barnes acquired other business interests, principally in shipbuilding and Great Lakes shipping. In 1896 he married Harriet Carey, with whom he had two children....

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Bennett, Henry Garland (14 December 1886–22 December 1951), university and government administrator, was born near New Hope in Nevada County, Arkansas, the son of Thomas Jefferson Bennett, a blind evangelist, and Mary Elizabeth Bright. At the age of eight, Henry was enrolled in the primary department (laboratory school) at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, where he remained until 1907, when he received the bachelor of arts degree. Following graduation, he earned a teaching certificate, taught in a business college in Texarkana, sold textbooks, and finally entered the public educational system in Oklahoma, subsequently holding teaching or administrative positions in Boswell, Choctaw County, and Hugo. Bennett secured a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1924, and Columbia University granted him the Ph.D. in 1926 for a dissertation entitled “The Coordination of the State Institutions of Higher Education in Oklahoma.” In Hugo, Bennett met Vera Pearl Connell, the daughter of a lawyer and federal judge who resided in Durant. The couple were married in January 1913; they had five children....

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Bennett, James Van Benschoten (28 August 1894–19 November 1978), director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, was born in Silver Creek, New York, the son of Edmund C. Bennett, an Episcopalian clergyman, and Mary Frances Berry, a former teacher. Bennett attended Brown University, where he received an A.B. in 1918, and served in the Army Air Corps during the closing months of World War I. In 1919 he married Marie Ettl; they had three children....

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Beyer, Clara Mortenson (13 April 1892–25 September 1990), reformer and labor law administrator, was born in Middletown, California, the daughter of Danish immigrants Morten Mortenson, a carpenter and unsuccessful chicken farmer, and Mary Frederickson. Her father died in a trolley accident when she was fifteen. As the eldest of four children remaining at home, Beyer delayed further schooling until her mother sold the farm. She then worked her way through high school and the University of California, Berkeley, gaining firsthand understanding of labor conditions and unskilled workers’ lives. At Berkeley she absorbed the institutional approach to labor economics, which emphasized the law and social institutions rather than market forces; she received a B.S. in 1915 and an M.S. in economics in 1916 with a thesis called “Organized Labor in San Francisco, from 1892–1902.”...

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Bissell, Richard Mervin, Jr. (18 September 1909–07 February 1994), economics professor and government administrator, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Richard Bissell, a wealthy insurance executive, and Marie Truesdel. As a young man, Bissell studied at elite educational institutions, including Groton School; Yale University, where he received a B.A. in 1932; and the London School of Economics, where he began his postgraduate work. In 1933 he returned to Yale as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor before earning his Ph.D. in economics in 1939. In 1940 he married Ann Cornelia Bushnell; they had five children. Described by one friend as “desperately shy,” Bissell seemed destined in 1941 to remain a university educator and scholar. However, the outbreak of World War II dramatically changed his life, as he left Yale to become a member of ...

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Bradley, Abraham, Jr. (21 February 1767– May 1838), public administrator and topographer, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the son of Abraham Bradley, a public officer, and Hannah Baldwin. Bradley grew up in Litchfield, graduated from Tapping Reeve’s well-known law school, and was admitted to the bar in 1791. For a brief period he practiced law in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where he also served as a judge. During this time he met and married Hannah Smith, with whom he had eight children. Though Bradley possessed an excellent knowledge of the law, he did not find legal work congenial because it called for a good deal of public speaking, a skill that he never acquired....

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Brown, Walter Folger (31 May 1869–26 January 1961), lawyer, politician, and government official, was born in Massillon, Ohio, the son of James Marshall Brown, a lawyer, and Lavinia Folger. Reared in comfortable circumstances, Brown graduated from Western Reserve Academy in 1888 and Harvard University in 1892, worked briefly for the ...

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Bullard, Arthur (08 December 1879–10 September 1929), writer and government official, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of Henry Bullard, a prominent Presbyterian minister, and Helen Nelson. After graduating in 1899 from Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, Bullard enrolled at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Two years later his growing social consciousness led him to leave college to join New York City’s burgeoning reform community. In 1903 he became a probation officer for the New York Prison Association and a resident worker at the University Settlement on New York’s Lower East Side....