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Davis, Mary Fenn Robinson (17 July 1824–18 July 1886), Spiritualist lecturer and women's rights advocate, Spiritualist lecturer and women’s rights advocate, was born in Clarendon, New York, the daughter of Chauncey Robinson and Damaris Fenn, farmers. She grew up in Randolph, New York, in a Baptist family. In 1846 she married Samuel G. Love, with whom she had two children. Both she and her husband found the Calvanist theology oppressive, however, and the bonds of marriage constricting. Two new movements that appeared during the next few years reflected their views and quickly gained their participation: Spiritualism and women’s rights. Her contributions to Spiritualist periodicals began in 1850 with a poem, “To Our Spirit Guardian,” published under the name “Mrs. S. G. Love” in the ...

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Green, Frances Harriet Whipple ( September 1805–10 June 1878), author, social reformer, and Spiritualist, was born in Smithfield, Rhode Island, the daughter of George Whipple. Her mother’s name is unknown. She was married twice, first in 1842 to the artist Charles C. Green, whom she divorced in 1847, and later in 1861 to William C. McDougall (or McDougal) of California. She had no children. In between marriages, she lived in New York City with S. B. Brittan and contributed to his publications on Spiritualism. In all of these activities she maintained the strong individualist spirit that was so important in many of the antebellum reform movements....

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Sprague, Achsa W. (17 November 1827–06 July 1862), spiritualist and reformer, was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, the daughter of cousins Charles Sprague and Betsy Sprague, farmers. Her formal education was limited, yet Achsa was precocious and began teaching in the village school by the age of twelve. The Sprague family was considered quite intellectual for the small rural town, and their children were immersed in the classics. The Spragues also shared a predisposition to ill health; of the six siblings, three were considered mentally imbalanced. At the age of twenty, Achsa developed a severe case of arthritis that left her bedridden for over seven years. She considered herself healed through “angelic powers” and by 1854 began a career as a traveling lecturer and spiritualist....

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Sunderland, La Roy (22 April 1804–15 May 1885), Methodist abolitionist and mental theorist, was born in Exeter, Rhode Island. Little is known about Sunderland’s parents or early childhood. As a young man Sunderland was apprenticed to a shoemaker in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, but was later enrolled as a student at Day’s Academy in Wrentham, Massachusetts, in 1819....