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Anna Hyatt Huntington At work on The Torch Bearers. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112006).

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Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt (10 March 1876–04 October 1973), sculptor and philanthropist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Alpheus Hyatt II, a professor of zoology and paleontology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Boston University, and Audella Beebe, an amateur landscape painter. She attended private schools in Cambridge, but at about age seventeen, she began to show an interest in sculpture. This was encouraged by her family, especially by her older sister, Harriet R. Hyatt, who began sculpting in the 1880s. Anna may have accompanied her sister to the Cowles School in Boston to study drawing with ...

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Johnson, Adelaide (26 Sept. 1859–10 Nov. 1955), sculptor and feminist, was born Sarah Adeline Johnson in Plymouth, Illinois to Christopher William Johnson and Margaret Huff Hendrickson. Her father had made a fortune panning for gold in California but lost it in real estate and railroad investments shortly after Adeline was born. The family sold their home at auction and moved to a farm where they raised sheep for wool, which they spun into yarn and cloth. As a young girl Adeline was recognized as a gifted artist with a special talent as a seamstress. From the age of ten she made clothes for her family and for herself, a practice she continued throughout her life. But making homespun clothes on a farm was not the sort of artist Adeline wanted to be. By the time she was sixteen, her parents saved enough money to send her to the St. Louis School of Design. Adeline took top prizes in woodcarving, graduated in ...

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John Mercer Langston. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

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Langston, John Mercer (14 December 1829–15 November 1897), African-American political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part–Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles’s will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839, however, when a court hearing, concluding that his guardian’s impending move to slave-state Missouri would imperil the boy’s freedom and inheritance, forced him to leave the family. Subsequently, he boarded in four different homes, white and black, in Chillicothe and Cincinnati, worked as a farmhand and bootblack, intermittently attended privately funded black schools since blacks were barred from public schools for whites, and in August 1841 was caught up in the violent white rioting against blacks and white abolitionists in Cincinnati....