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John Barrett. Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92747).

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Barrett, John (28 November 1866–17 October 1938), commercial publicist and diplomat, was born in Grafton, Vermont, the son of Charles Barrett and Caroline Sanford. His father, reportedly shy and withdrawn, served for a time as a town official and a Republican state legislator but devoted most of his life to artistic pursuits. His mother, who was more outgoing, had a lively regard for politics, law, journalism, theology, and economics, and Barrett’s letters to her suggest she strongly influenced him....

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Bowers, Claude Gernade (20 November 1878–21 January 1958), journalist, diplomat, and historian, was born in Westfield, Indiana, the son of Lewis Bowers, a storekeeper, and Juliet Tipton, a milliner and dressmaker. Reared in rural communities in central Indiana, Claude moved to Indianapolis with his divorced mother when he was thirteen. He was a voracious reader and became a confirmed Democrat while at Indianapolis High School. In 1898 Bowers graduated and also won the state oratorical contest but was unable to attend college for lack of funds. Instead he worked for the publishing firm that later became the Bobbs-Merrill Company. In 1900 Bowers became the major editorial writer for the ...

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Briggs, Cyril Valentine (28 May 1888–18 October 1966), journalist, Pan-Africanist, black nationalist, and Communist, was born in Nevis, West Indies, now part of St. Kitts–Nevis. His mother, Marian Huggins, was black, while his father, Louis E. Briggs, a plantation owner, was white. He graduated from the Ebenezer Wesleyan school in 1904. As a youth he worked as a library assistant and later as a reporter for the ...

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Erastus Brooks. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109972).

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Brooks, Erastus (31 January 1815–25 November 1886), journalist and politician, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of the late James Brooks (c. 1788–1814), a commander of a privateer in the War of 1812 who had gone down with his ship, and Betsey Folsom. The financial problems caused by his father’s early death meant that Erastus had to begin work at age eight as a grocery store clerk in Boston. Ever enterprising, he used his pocket money to buy books and attend night school. He soon was placed in a printing office, where he learned to set type. Knowledge of this trade enabled him to earn enough money to attend classes at Brown University, although he did not complete the course of study. Eager to work for himself, he started his own newspaper, the ...

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Brough, John (17 September 1811–29 August 1865), journalist and governor of Ohio, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of John Brough, a tavern keeper, and Jane Garnet. Born in the building that housed both the county courthouse and his father’s tavern, Brough was orphaned at age eleven. Provided a home by a local editor, he soon became a printer’s apprentice. In 1830 he briefly attended Ohio University and the next year organized a Democratic newspaper in Marietta, the ...

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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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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....

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Burnham, Louis Everett (29 September 1915–12 February 1960), journalist, activist, and radical, was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Charles Breechford Burnham, a building superintendent, and Louise St. Clair Williams Burnham, a hairdresser. His parents had emigrated from Barbados to the United States in search of a better livelihood, and they bought their own property in Harlem and began providing rooms for new Caribbean immigrants. Burnham attended New York City public schools and graduated from Townsend High School in 1932. In the fall of 1932 he enrolled in City College. He became actively involved in student political activities, serving as president of the Frederick Douglass Society and vice president of the student council. Affable, charismatic, and a powerful orator, he often spoke on campus about racial injustice, the threat of fascism to world peace, unemployment, and the plight of American youth. He graduated from City College in 1936....

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Calhoun, William Barron (29 December 1796–08 November 1865), lawyer, writer, and politician, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Andrew Calhoun, a merchant, and Martha Chamberlain. His father was one of the founders of Boston’s Park Street Church. Calhoun was prepared for college by Harvard graduate William Wells, then he attended Yale, graduating in 1814. While a senior at Yale, Calhoun was one of the editors of a student publication, the ...

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Ciancabilla, Giuseppe (21 August 1871–16 September 1904), anarchist and journalist, was born in Rome, Italy, the son of Alessandro Ciancabilla, a lumber merchant, and Appollonia Corinaldini. Raised in modest circumstances, but studious and intelligent, Ciancabilla pursued classical studies in secondary school, and in his late teens he began to write poems and articles for various publications....

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Colón, Jesús (20 January 1901–1974), writer and political and community activist, was born to working-class parents in rural Puerto Rico, whose names are not known. In A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches, a compilation of his autobiographical short essays written in English, Colón described his humble childhood in Cayey, a small farming town in a breathtaking mountain range, well known for producing hand-rolled cigars. Cigars were among the most important products for export of this territory acquired by the United States after a successful war against Spain in 1898. In 1917 Puerto Ricans became American citizens. The Puerto Rico of Colón's childhood memories appears free of American influence. His dearest childhood memories belong to the world of tobacco workers, male and female, who spent many hours rolling cigars while listening to the local and international news that a hired reader read aloud to them. According to Colón's memoirs, the reader included literary passages, such as Émile Zola's ...

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George Creel. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92526).

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Creel, George Edward (01 December 1876–02 October 1953), journalist and government administrator, was born in Lafayette County, Missouri, the son of Henry Clay Creel and Virginia Fackler, farmers. He grew up in the Missouri towns of Independence and Odessa, where his mother supported the family by sewing, gardening, and operating a boarding house, because his father was often drunk and unemployed. As a teenager, Creel ran away from home to follow county fairs, then to roam the Southwest. In 1896 he was hired as a cub reporter by the ...

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Dabney, Wendell Phillips (04 November 1865–05 June 1952), journalist, political leader, and publisher, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of John Dabney, a caterer, and Elizabeth Foster. Dabney attended elementary and secondary school in Richmond. His childhood was characterized by rigorous inculcation of John Dabney’s religious and political views. His father, who had taught himself to read and write, instilled in his children the importance of religion as a vehicle for lessening racial oppression. John Dabney also passed on to his children his perception that Republicans helped African Americans and Democrats did not....

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Daggett, Rollin Mallory (22 February 1831–12 November 1901), journalist, congressman, minister to Hawaii, and author, was born in Richville, New York, the son of Eunice White and Gardner Daggett, farmers. Daggett was the youngest of seven children, the other six being girls. After his mother’s death in 1833, the family moved to Defiance, Ohio, in 1837. In 1849 Daggett became a printer, learning a trade which endowed him with an education and influenced his later choice of a journalistic career....

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Daniels, Jonathan (26 April 1902–06 November 1981), journalist, author, and government official, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Josephus Daniels, a journalist, and Addie Worth Bagley. Daniels attended public schools in Raleigh until 1913 and then St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., when his father assumed the post of secretary of the navy. In 1921 he received a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, where he served as editor of the campus paper and was a classmate of novelist ...

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De Leon, Daniel (14 December 1852–11 May 1914), socialist, journalist, and polemicist, was born in Curaçao, Dutch West Indies, the son of Salomon De Leon, a surgeon and official in the Dutch colonial army, and Sarah Jesurun, who came from a wealthy family of Sephardic Jews. In the year that his father died (1864), Daniel’s mother took her sickly twelve-year-old son to Europe for its more salubrious climate and educational opportunities. Although no evidence exists to prove that De Leon attended a Gymnasium in Germany or the University of Leiden in Belgium, as he later claimed, he did acquire some secondary education and knowledge of classical and modern languages....

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Amanda Khiterman and Michal R. Belknap

Dennis, Peggy (01 January 1909–25 September 1993), communist Party activist and journalist, was born Regina Karasick in New York City to Meyer and Berta Karasick, Jewish-Russian revolutionaries who in 1904 had traded the confines of czarist oppression for the capitalist society they despised. Determined never to assimilate once they settled in America, the Karasick family remained active in the socialist movement, even after the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, which dashed their hopes of returning home....