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Adorno, Theodor (11 September 1903–06 August 1969), social and political theorist, aesthetician, and atonalist musical composer, was born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Oskar Wiesengrund, a wealthy wine merchant, and Maria Calvelli-Adorno, a professional singer of Corsican and Genoese origin. He adopted his mother’s maiden name when his scholarly writing began to appear in 1938, perhaps reflecting his close attachment to her rather than to his remote father. His mother had borne her only child at age thirty-seven and lavished attention and resources on him, particularly with regard to “high” culture. His schooling included piano and composition training at a professional level (one teacher was Alban Berg) and philosophy with Edmund Husserl....

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Beard, Charles Austin (27 November 1874–01 September 1948), political scientist, historian, and pundit, was born near Knightstown, Indiana, the son of William Henry Beard, a farmer and banker, and Mary Payne. The family was of a Quaker heritage, and Charles attended a local Quaker academy before going on to DePauw University, from which he graduated in 1898. At DePauw his teachers introduced him to modern social theorists, including Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, ...

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Bentley, Arthur Fisher (16 October 1870–21 May 1957), sociologist, political scientist, and philosopher, was born in Freeport, Illinois, the son of Angeline Alice Fisher and Charles Frederick Bentley, a banker. The family moved to Omaha and then to Grand Island, Nebraska. Bentley briefly attended both York College, Nebraska, and the University of Denver, Colorado, before returning to Grand Island to work in his father’s bank. In 1890 Bentley entered Johns Hopkins University to study economics and sociology. He returned again to Grand Island and, with his father, collected economic and agricultural data on the community of Harrison, Nebraska. Bentley received an A.B. in 1892. His undergraduate thesis, “The Condition of the Western Farmer as Illustrated by the Economic History of a Nebraska Township,” was published the next year in the ...

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Blum, Virgil Clarence (27 March 1913–05 April 1993), educator, author, activist, and clergyman, was born in Defiance, Iowa, one of twelve children of John Peter and Elizabeth (Rushenberg) Blum, both farmers. His grade school and high school years were spent at St. Peter's school in Defiance. In 1932 he began college at Dowling College, Des Moines, Iowa, and the next year transferred to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. On 31 Aug. 1934 he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary at Florissant, Missouri, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Latin and English in 1938. (A brother, Victor Joseph, also became a Jesuit and became a professor of geophysics and seismology at St. Louis University). Virgil studied philosophy at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, continuing studies in the summer until he earned a master's degree in history and political science in 1945....

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Boudin, Louis Boudinoff (15 February 1874–29 May 1952), political theorist and lawyer, was born Louis Boudinoff in the Ukraine, the son of Peter Boudinoff, a merchant, and Frone Feld. Louis Boudinoff emigrated in 1891 to New York, where he adopted a shortened form of his family name as a surname. He began legal studies at New York University, supporting himself with part-time work as a shoemaker, journalist, and tutor. He earned an LL.B. in 1896 and an LL.M. in 1897. He became a naturalized citizen in 1897 and was admitted to the New York bar in 1898. The next year he married Leah Kanefsky; they had two children. Leah died in 1906, and in 1909 Boudin married Anna Pavitt, a dentist....

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Sophonisba Breckinridge. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99076).

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Breckinridge, Sophonisba Preston (01 April 1866–30 July 1948), social scientist and reformer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the daughter of William C. P. Breckinridge, a lawyer and U.S. congressman, and Issa Desha. Her father vigorously supported the rights of women and African Americans to secure higher educations. A rich legacy of political achievement and the prominent social standing of the Breckinridge family afforded Sophonisba many advantages in her early life. “Nisba,” as she was affectionately known, excelled in school and as an adolescent began taking courses at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lexington. In 1884 she enrolled at Wellesley College where she studied Latin and mathematics, graduating with an S.B. in 1888....

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Brunauer, Esther (07 July 1901–26 June 1959), international affairs specialist and State Department official, was born Esther Delia Caukin near Jackson, California, the daughter of Ray Oakheart Caukin, an electrician, and Grace Elizabeth Blackwell, a suffragist and, later, a federal employee. Esther attended Mills College where she earned an A.B. in 1924. Three years later she received a Ph.D. in modern European history and international politics from Stanford University....

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Burdick, Eugene Leonard (12 Dec. 1918–26 July 1965), novelist and political scientist, was born in Sheldon, Iowa, to John J. Burdick, an Irish immigrant house painter, and Marie Ellerbroek Burdick. His father died when he was four, and two years later his mother, of Dutch descent, married Fritz Gaillard, an émigré cellist from the Netherlands. The family moved to Los Angeles, where Gaillard played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From childhood onward, Burdick excelled in both academics and sports. After attending classes at Santa Monica and Santa Barbara junior colleges, he enrolled as a scholarship student at Stanford University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in psychology in ...

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Burgess, John William (26 August 1844–13 January 1931), political theorist, historian, and university dean, was born in Cornersville, Giles County, Tennessee, the son of Thomas T. Burgess, a planter, and Mary Judith Edwards. He was a descendant of Thomas Burgess, who landed in Massachusetts in 1630. Raised in Tennessee in a slaveholding, pro-Union southern Whig family, Burgess became interested in politics early in life upon hearing the orations and debates of ...

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Dunning, William Archibald (12 May 1857–25 August 1922), historian and political scientist, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of John H. Dunning, a successful carriage manufacturer, and Catherine D. Trelease. John Dunning, a painter and connoisseur of art as well as a businessman, inspired his son’s love of learning and began himself to study classical Greek at the age of seventy-eight. The young William, known for his wit and wry sense of humor in his later career, was in constant disciplinary trouble and was expelled from Dartmouth in 1877 for his participation in pranks. He entered Columbia College in 1878, received his B.A. in 1881, M.A. in 1884, and Ph.D. in 1885. After a year abroad studying under Heinrich von Treitschke in Berlin, Dunning returned to Columbia, where he quickly moved up the academic ladder to full professor. In 1904 he received an LL.D. from Columbia, and he became, probably in 1903, the Francis Lieber Professor of History and Political Philosophy, a position he held until his death. He married Charlotte E. Loomis in 1888; they had no children....

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Fainsod, Merle (02 May 1907–11 February 1972), political scientist and educator, was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, the son of Louis Fainsod and Frieda Marcus, shopkeepers. After Fainsod’s father died in 1920 the family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Fainsod graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1928 with a degree in political science, and two years later received a master’s degree in the same field. He then went to Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1932, completing his doctorate in only two years; his dissertation was revised and published as ...

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Follett, Mary Parker (03 September 1868–18 December 1933), theorist of social organization and civic leader, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles Allen Follett and Elizabeth Curtis Baxter. Follett’s father attempted a variety of jobs and her mother took in boarders before the family finally moved in with Follett’s wealthy maternal grandfather. In 1888 Follett enrolled at the Harvard Annex, the precursor of Radcliffe College, and graduated summa cum laude in 1898. During this ten-year period she also spent a year at Newnham College, Cambridge University, and worked for a few years as a schoolteacher at Mrs. Shaw’s School in Boston. Follett’s perceptiveness as an observer of social and political phenomena was evident even before her college graduation when Longmans, Green published her book ...

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Freund, Ernst (30 January 1864–20 October 1932), professor of law and political science, was born in New York City, the son of Ludwig A. Freund and Nannie Bayer. His parents were natives of Berlin, Germany; before 1875 they returned to that city, and Freund was educated there. He was awarded a doctorate (J.U.D.) in canon and civil law at Heidelberg in 1884, and in that year he elected to return to New York as a native citizen. There he studied law and politics at Columbia University, where his mentor was ...

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Gilpin, William (04 October 1815–19 January 1894), geopolitician, soldier, and land speculator, was born in New Castle County, Delaware, the son of Joshua Gilpin, a manufacturer of fine paper, and Mary Dilworth. He was educated at home until age thirteen, when he was sent to Settle, England, for preparatory school. Two years later he returned home, and after an examination, he was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania as a junior. He received his A.B. in 1833 at the age of eighteen....

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Hartz, Louis (07 April 1919–20 January 1986), political scientist and historian, was born in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Max Hartz and Fannie Plotkin Hartz. Shortly after his birth, the family, which included two older boys, moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where his father ran a grocery. In 1936 with the help of a scholarship from a local newspaper, Louis entered Harvard. After compiling a brilliant record as an undergraduate and graduate student, earning an S.B. in 1940 and a Ph.D. in 1946, he joined the Harvard faculty, winning tenure at the early age of thirty-one, and rapidly made a name for himself as an enormously popular and effective teacher and an outstanding scholar with a national and international reputation. On 3 July 1943 he married Stella Feinberg; they had a son....

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Kendall, Willmoore (05 March 1909–30 June 1967), political scientist and journalist, was born in Konawa, Oklahoma, the son of Willmoore Kendall, a blind Methodist minister and author, and Pearl Anna Garlick. During his boyhood, spent in a succession of Methodist parsonages and small-town elementary schools, Kendall served as his father’s eyes. The intense, ambivalent relationship with his father led to an intellectually precocious upbringing as well as changeable interests that would characterize his life. At thirteen he graduated from the Mangum, Oklahoma, high school. He attended Northwestern University and the University of Tulsa before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he received his B.A. in 1927. While still a teenager, Kendall ran away from home to New Orleans with the intention of going to South America. He reached New Orleans, but his plan failed. He then returned to Northwestern University, where in 1928 he received an M.A. degree in Romance languages. His thesis was a study of Spanish short-story writer and novelist Pío Baroja y Nessi....

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Key, V. O. (13 March 1908–04 October 1963), political scientist, was born Valdimer Orlando Key, Jr., in Austin, Texas, to Valdimer Orlando Key, a lawyer and farmer, and Olive Terry. Key spent his early years in Lamesa in West Texas, where his father was active in local politics. Later Key claimed that time spent hanging around the courthouse square had helped shape his political sensitivities and ability to comprehend politics. From 1925 to 1927 he attended MacMurry College in Abilene and finished his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas, where he also started his graduate work (A.B., 1929; M.A., 1930). Key earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (1934), having written his dissertation under ...

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Jeane Kirkpatrick addresses the Security Council at the United Nations headquarters about the Lebanon crisis, 1984. Photograph by Joel Landau. Associated Press

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Kirkpatrick, Jeane Duane Jordan (19 November 1926–07 December 2006), UN ambassador, was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, a tiny settlement on the Chisholm Trail in the heart of oil country, to Welcher F. Jordan, a well-driller for wildcatters, and Leona Kile, a bookkeeper. She was the couple's only child. In 1938, when she was twelve years old, the family moved to Vandalia, Illinois, and two years later to Mount Vernon, Illinois....