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Harry Benjamin. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02717).

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Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...

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Foote, Edward Bliss (20 February 1829–05 October 1906), eclectic physician and birth-control pioneer, was born near Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Herschel Foote, a postmaster, and Pamelia Bliss. Foote left school at fifteen to pursue a career in journalism, first with the Cleveland Herald...

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Ruth M. Leverton. Courtesy of Jeffrey S Hampl.

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Leverton, Ruth M. (23 March 1908–14 September 1982), scientist and dietitian, was born Ruth Mandeville Leverton in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Ernest Richard Leverton, an engineer, and Helen Ruth Mandeville Leverton. The family moved often because of her father's career. After her high school senior year in Deadwood, South Dakota, they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she began studying at the University of Nebraska....

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Morgan, Agnes Fay (04 May 1884–20 July 1968), nutrition scientist and home economics administrator, was born Jane Agnes Fay in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Irish immigrants Patrick John Fay, a laborer and builder, and his second wife, Mary Josephine Dooley. Morgan graduated as an outstanding student from Peoria High School and with financial aid from a local citizen briefly attended Vassar College and then the University of Chicago, from which she received the B.S. (1904) and M.S. (1905) in chemistry....

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Roberts, Lydia Jane (30 June 1879–28 May 1965), home economics educator and nutritionist, was born in Hope Township, Barry County, Michigan, the daughter of Warren Roberts, a carpenter, and Mary McKibbin. She attended grade school and high school in Martin, Michigan. After graduating from high school (1898), Roberts obtained a Limited Teaching Certificate (qualification for teaching in only certain elementary schools) from Mt. Pleasant Normal School in 1899 and began teaching in rural Michigan. Her adventuresome nature led her to teaching positions in Miles City and Great Falls, Montana, before she returned to obtain her Life Certificate (qualification for teaching in all rural and urban schools) from Mt. Pleasant in 1909. She then taught third grade and served as a critic teacher, or supervisor of student teachers, in the local normal school in Dillon, Montana. Having observed a relationship between the health of her students and the quality of their diets, Roberts wanted to know more about the nutritional needs of children. To pursue this knowledge she entered the University of Chicago in 1915 at the age of thirty-six, ending her seventeen-year career as an elementary school teacher....

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Rock, John Charles (24 March 1890–04 December 1984), physician and advocate of planned parenthood, was born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, the son of Frank Sylvester Rock, a businessman, and Ann Jane Murphy. He and his twin sister benefited from the amenities of an upwardly mobile Irish Catholic household, where rugged older brothers were taught to respect John’s interests in sewing, music, and theater, as well as his piety as a daily communicant at the Immaculate Conception Church. In 1906 he left home to attend the High School of Commerce in Boston. After graduation in 1909, he worked for the United Fruit Company on a banana plantation in Guatemala, where he was moved by the plight of the poor and was dismissed after nine months for his lack of enthusiasm. Another job as a cashier for an engineering firm in Rhode Island confirmed that he lacked an aptitude for business. In search of a vocation, he entered Harvard College; lettered in track; performed in Hasty Pudding, the theatrical society; and tried to revive Newman Club, the Catholic students’ organization. He graduated in three years with the class of 1915, received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1918, and spent World War I as a resident in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He concluded his medical education with residencies in obstetrics at Boston Lying-In Hospital and in gynecology at the Free Hospital for Women. After he began private practice in 1921, Rock quickly became prominent in one of the world’s most distinguished medical communities. In 1925 he married Anna Thorndike of Boston, a mathematics major from Bryn Mawr; they had five children....

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Stone, Abraham (30 October 1890–03 July 1959), and Hannah Mayer Stone (15 October 1893–10 July 1941), physicians and marriage counselors, were born, respectively, in Russia and New York City. Abraham was the son of Miron Stone, a merchant, and Amelia Chamers. Hannah was the daughter of Max Mayer, a pharmacist, and Golda Rinaldo. At a time when the discussion of sexuality, fertility, and reproduction was highly controversial—even in the context of marriage—the Stones were leaders in the movement to educate adult Americans on these matters, and they wrote a modern marriage manual that remained authoritative for several generations....

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See Stone, Abraham

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Yarros, Rachelle (18 May 1869–17 March 1946), physician and reformer, was born Rachelle Slobodinsky at Berdechev near Kiev, Russia, the daughter of Joachim Slobodinsky and Bernice (maiden name unknown). Educated in primary schools, as a teenager she joined a radical revolutionary group, a move her wealthy family opposed. Eventually she realized that she might be sent to jail or Siberia, and she accepted enough money from her parents for passage to the United States. She arrived in New York in the late 1880s....