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Blankenburg, Lucretia Longshore (08 May 1845–29 March 1937), suffragist and reformer, was born near New Lisbon, Ohio, the daughter of Thomas Ellwood Longshore, a Quaker schoolteacher, and Hannah E. Myers, who also was from a Quaker family and who became the first woman doctor in Philadelphia. She was named for ...

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Bowles, Eva Del Vakia (24 January 1875–14 June 1943), secretary for colored work for the Young Women's Christian Association, secretary for colored work for the Young Women’s Christian Association, was born in Albany, Athens County, Ohio, the daughter of John Hawkes Bowles and Mary Jane Porter. Unlike most African Americans born during the American Reconstruction period, Bowles grew up in comfortable circumstances. Her grandfather John R. Bowles served as a chaplain for the all-black Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry and later became the first black teacher hired by the Ohio Public School Fund. Her father was the first black postal clerk in Columbus, Ohio....

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Charlotte Emerson Brown. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111863).

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Brown, Charlotte Emerson (21 April 1838–05 February 1895), first president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, first president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, was born in Andover, Massachusetts, the daughter of Reverend Ralph Emerson, a clergyman and professor, and Eliza Rockwell. Charlotte’s father came from a distinguished New England heritage and was related to ...

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Clarke, Grace Giddings Julian (11 September 1865–18 June 1938), suffragist and reformer, was born in Centerville, Indiana, the daughter of George Washington Julian, a Republican congressman from Indiana, and Laura Giddings, the daughter of Ohio Republican congressman Joshua R. Giddings. After spending her early years in Washington, D.C., Grace and her family left Washington in the spring of 1871 at the end of her father’s congressional term, residing first in Centerville, Indiana, until settling permanently in Irvington, a suburb of Indianapolis, in 1873. There she attended local schools and completed her education at Butler University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1884 and a master’s degree in philosophy in 1885....

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Cotten, Sallie Swepson Sims Southall (13 June 1846–04 May 1929), advocate of women's education and the women's club movement in North Carolina, advocate of women’s education and the women’s club movement in North Carolina, was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Southall and Susan Sims. Because of her father’s precarious fortunes as planter and hotelkeeper, she came to Murfreesboro, North Carolina, at the age of thirteen to live with her father’s wealthy cousin. She attended Wesleyan Female College and Greensboro Female College, graduating in 1863. While teaching in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in 1864, she met Robert Randolph Cotten, a Confederate cavalryman. They were married in 1866....

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Croly, Jane Cunningham (19 December 1829–23 December 1901), writer and women's club leader, writer and women’s club leader, was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, the daughter of Joseph Howes Cunningham, a Unitarian preacher, and Jane Scott. Croly’s family emigrated to the United States from England in 1841, perhaps prompted by the unpopularity of her father’s extreme Unitarianism and his efforts to educate workers. She was twelve years old when they settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, and then in Wappinger’s Falls, New York. She kept house for her Congregationalist minister brother and acquired enough learning to teach district school and write a semimonthly newspaper for her brother’s parishioners....

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Sarah Platt Decker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111458).

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Decker, Sarah Sophia Chase Platt (01 October 1855–07 July 1912), clubwoman, suffragist, and community activist, was born in McIndoe Falls, Vermont, the daughter of Edwin Chase, a lumber dealer, paper manufacturer, and Baptist abolitionist known as the “Fighting Deacon,” and Lydia Maria Adams. The family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, when Sarah was quite young. She graduated from high school in Holyoke and while still in her teens became active in community work as a trustee of a fund to aid the poor. In 1875 she married a Holyoke merchant, Charles B. Harris....

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Diaz, Abby Morton (22 November 1821–01 April 1904), teacher, writer, and social reformer, was born Abigail Morton in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ichabod Morton, a shipbuilder, and Patty Weston. She descended from George Morton, author of “Mourt’s Relation,” the first printed record of the Plymouth settlement. After his wife’s early death, Abby’s father remarried and had five sons....

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Doyle, Sarah Elizabeth (23 March 1830–21 December 1922), educator and activist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of Thomas Doyle, a bookbinder, and Martha Dorrance Jones. Her father died when Sarah was eleven years old. Her brother, Thomas Arthur, was mayor of Providence between 1864 and 1886, possessing a strong commitment to public schools and urban planning. Sarah Doyle attended the local public grammar school, then entered Providence High School in 1843, its first year, graduating in 1846. She began nearly four decades of teaching immediately after high school, first teaching for ten years in private schools. In 1856 Doyle joined the girls department of Providence High, serving as department principal from 1878 until her retirement in 1892. Doyle was an active and influential teacher, responsible for supervising her colleagues. She was a vice president of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, a teachers’ continuing-education organization, and she headed the literature section of its reading circle for several years. Doyle impressed many of her women students with her skill and dedication, and several who became teachers founded the Sarah E. Doyle Club in her honor. Organized in 1894 for the “mutual assistance and culture of members,” for decades the club served hundreds of Providence teachers through lectures and classes. She became the first woman to preside over a meeting of the National Education Association when president Thomas Bicknell gave her the gavel for a single session in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1884....

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Fay, Amy Muller (21 May 1844–28 February 1928), pianist and musical activist, was born in Bayou Goula, Louisiana, the child of Charlotte Emily Hopkins and Charles Fay, both descended from prominent New England families. (She was christened Amelia but was known as Amy.) Her father, an Episcopalian minister, was the son of a leading judge, while her mother, the daughter of the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont, was herself a woman of great intellect. Amy grew up in St. Albans, Vermont, where her father opened a private school. She received her first musical instruction from her mother. After her mother’s death when Amy was twelve, she continued her music study with her older sisters, except for the summer of 1861, when she studied for a few weeks with Jan Pychowski at the normal school in Geneseo, New York....

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Gaines, Irene McCoy (25 October 1892–30 March 1964), social worker and clubwoman, was born in Ocala, Florida, the daughter of Charles McCoy and Mamie Ellis. She grew up in Chicago where her mother moved after her parents divorced in 1903. From 1905 she attended the Fisk University Normal School in Nashville, Tennessee, from which she graduated in 1910....

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Ellen M. Henrotin Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101785).

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Henrotin, Ellen Martin (06 July 1847–29 June 1922), woman's club leader and social reformer, woman’s club leader and social reformer, was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Edward Byam Martin and Sarah Ellen Norris. Following her birth the family moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and after Ellen’s thirteenth birthday they were transplanted to the British Isle of Wight, where Edward Martin had acquired land. The status and wealth of the family enabled Ellen to be educated in London, Paris, and Dresden schools and to learn many foreign languages. In 1868 the family returned to the United States, making their home in Chicago where her father had numerous investments....

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Laws, Annie (20 January 1855–01 July 1927), woman's club leader and education reformer, woman’s club leader and education reformer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of James Hedding Laws, a businessman, and Sarah Amelia Langdon. She was educated in Cincinnati’s public schools and at Miss Appleton’s School for Girls. She also received private instruction in music, art, and literature....

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Lawson, Roberta Campbell (31 October 1878–31 December 1940), clubwoman and collector of Native-American music and artifacts, was born at Alluwe, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory (now Okla.), the daughter of John Edward Campbell, a rancher and trader, and Emma Journeycake, a Delaware Indian whose parents had gone to live with the Cherokees after white settlers moved into Kansas. Her maternal grandfather was Charles Journeycake, last tribal chief of the Delawares, to whom she was especially devoted and from whom she acquired a lifelong appreciation of her Native-American heritage. Roberta and her younger brother (another brother died in infancy) spent their childhood in a remote rural setting but in a comfortable home where toys, books, musical instruments, and ponies abounded and where guests were always graciously entertained. After being instructed by her parents and a private tutor, Roberta attended a female seminary at Independence, Missouri. A lifelong interest and talent in music (Roberta reputedly assisted her mother as church organist in Alluwe at the age of ten) was complemented with specialized music studies while attending Hardin College, Mexico, Missouri....

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Moore, Eva Perry (24 July 1852–28 April 1931), women's club leader, women’s club leader, was born in Rockford, Illinois, the daughter of Seely Perry, occupation unknown, and Elizabeth Benedict. She attended Vassar College, graduating in 1873, and traveled in Europe for three years. In 1879 she married Philip North Moore, a mining engineer, to whom she was married for fifty-one years, until his death in 1930. They had two children. Her husband’s work caused the family to move around the country for ten years, until they settled in St. Louis in 1889. There, Moore distinguished herself in local women’s organizational efforts and climbed to statewide and national leadership roles....

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Pennybacker, Anna McLaughlin Hardwicke (07 May 1861–04 February 1938), woman's club leader, woman’s club leader, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the daughter of Rev. John Benjamin Hardwicke, a Baptist minister, and Martha Dews. For unknown reasons, Anna later adopted the middle initial “J.,” which she used instead of “McLaughlin.” Her father’s work took the family of eight children and several adoptees to North Carolina, West Virginia, and Leavenworth, Kansas, where Anna was high school valedictorian, and then to Bryan, Texas. She attended the new Sam Houston Normal School in Huntsville, Texas, on scholarship and graduated with the first class, in 1880, summa cum laude. For over ten years she taught school, in Carthage, Missouri, and Bryan, Texas....

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Ruffin, Josephine St. Pierre (31 August 1842–13 March 1924), editor and woman's club organizer, editor and woman’s club organizer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eliza Matilda Menhenick of Cornwall, England, and John St. Pierre, a clothing seller whose father was a French immigrant from Martinique. Though Josephine’s complexion was very light, public schools in Boston were closed to people of color until 1855, so she received her early education at nearby Salem and Charlestown. Later she attended Boston’s Bowdoin School and took two years of private tutoring in New York. In 1858 she married ...