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Davis, Katharine Bement (15 January 1860–10 December 1935), social worker, prison reformer, and sex researcher, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Frances Bement and Oscar Bill Davis, a manager for the Bradstreet Company, precursor of Dun and Bradstreet, the credit rating firm. When her father suffered business reversals following the panic of 1873, Davis had to postpone plans for college and work as a public school teacher for ten years. She continued her studies independently and in 1890 entered Vassar College at the age of thirty, graduating two years later with honors....

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Haynes, George Edmund (11 May 1880–08 January 1960), sociologist and social worker, was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the son of Louis Haynes, an occasional laborer, and Mattie Sloan, a domestic servant. He was raised by devout, hard-working, poorly educated parents. His mother stressed that education and good character were paths to improvement. She moved with Haynes and his sister to Hot Springs, a city with better educational opportunities than Pine Bluff. Haynes attended Fisk University, completing his B.A. in 1903. His record at Fisk enabled him to go to Yale, where he earned an M.A. in sociology in 1904. He also won a scholarship to Yale’s Divinity School but withdrew early in 1905 to help fund his sister’s schooling....

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Taft, Jessie (24 June 1882–07 June 1960), sociologist, social worker, and educator, was born Julia Taft in Dubuque, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Chester Taft and Amanda May Farwell. Her parents came from Vermont but moved to rural Iowa, where her father became a prosperous merchant. Her mother was deaf, and this disability plus personality differences created a barrier between them. Jessie enjoyed school and music, graduating from West Des Moines High School, and independently chose to become a Unitarian....