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Bulova, Arde (24 October 1889–19 March 1958), businessman, was born in New York City, the son of Joseph Bulova and Bertha Eisner. His father emigrated to New York from Bohemia and in 1873 started a small jewelry manufacturing business that eventually became the Bulova Watch Company. Bulova attended school in New York and in 1905 began working as a salesman for his father’s company. The family business prospered and in 1911 was incorporated, with the father as president and the son as vice president and treasurer. The firm was reincorporated in 1923 as the Bulova Watch Company, Inc. Bulova became chairman of the board in 1930, a position he held until his death in 1958....

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Commoner, Barry (28 May 1917–30 September 2012), scientist-activist, biologist, and environmentalist, was born Barry Commoner in Brooklyn, New York, to Isaac (Isador) and Gussie Commoner, Russian immigrants. His uncle, the Slavonic scholar Avrahm Yarmolinsky, recommended the family adopt a more anglicized spelling of their last name. Commoner attended Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, where he discovered his passion for biology. Assisted by his wife, the poet ...

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Coolidge, Albert Sprague (23 January 1894–31 August 1977), chemical physicist, political activist, and civil libertarian, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Frederic Shurtleff Coolidge, an orthopedic surgeon, and Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. His mother was the daughter of Albert Arnold Sprague, a pioneer merchant of Chicago, which made it possible for Sprague Coolidge to be financially independent. He was directly descended from John Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, who emigrated from England in 1630 and whose farm occupied almost all of what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts. His college preparatory education was at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. from Harvard College in 1915. That year he married Margaret Stewart Coit. They had five children....

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Peter Cooper. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11083).

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Cooper, Peter (12 February 1791–04 April 1883), inventor, manufacturer, and civic benefactor, was born in New York City, the son of John Cooper and Margaret Campbell. His father was a struggling merchant who moved the family successively to Peekskill, Catskill, and finally Newburgh, New York, in search of financial success. Assisting his father in a series of occupations (hatter, brewer, shopkeeper, and brickmaker), Cooper obtained valuable practical work experience. Given his family’s relative poverty and constant movement, Cooper was only able to obtain a year’s worth of formal schooling; this deficiency in his formal education haunted him throughout his life....

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Hexamer, Charles John (09 May 1862–15 October 1921), civil engineer and political advocate for German-American causes, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Ernest Hexamer, a civil engineer, and Marie Klingel. His father was a prominent “forty-eighter,” one of the wave of educated, liberal German immigrants who came to the United States after the European revolutions of 1848. Hexamer attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a B.S. in 1882, an A.M. in 1884, and a Ph.D. in 1886. He also received an LL.D. from the National University in 1899. He married Annie Josephine Haeuptner in 1891 and worked as an engineer in Philadelphia from 1882 until his retirement in 1917. He authored ...

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Gardiner Greene Hubbard Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105888).

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Hubbard, Gardiner Greene (25 August 1822–11 December 1897), businessman and civic leader, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Hubbard, a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and Mary Anne Greene. Hubbard was named for his mother’s father, who had come, modestly wealthy, from Ireland and had become one of the richest men in Boston. After Hubbard’s graduation from Dartmouth in 1841, he studied law for a year at Harvard before entering a prominent Boston firm. He married Gertrude McCurdy in 1846 and moved with her to Cambridge. Of their six children, two died in infancy....

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Mather, Kirtley Fletcher (13 February 1888–07 May 1978), scientist and liberal activist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of William Green Mather, a railroad ticket agent, and Julia Sabrina King. Neither parent attended college, but they encouraged Kirtley’s interest in science and appreciated his chance, in high school, to take a course in earth science that required frequent field trips. Raised a liberal Baptist, Mather saw no conflict between biblical revelation and the concept of human evolution....

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Morris, John Gottlieb (14 November 1803–10 October 1895), Lutheran pastor, entomologist, and Baltimore cultural leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania, the son of John Samuel Gottlieb Morris, a physician, and Barbara Myers. Raised in a pious middle-class household, Gottlieb, following his father’s death in 1808, lived much of his life in unusually close relationship to his mother and his brother, Charles. After studying at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduating from Dickinson College in 1823, he studied theology at Princeton Seminary and at the infant Gettysburg Seminary. He married Eliza Hay in 1827; they had three children....

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Pauling, Linus Carl (28 February 1901–19 August 1994), biochemist, physical chemist, and political activist, was born in Portland, Oregon, the son of Herman Henry William Pauling, a druggist, and Lucy Isabelle Darling. Fascination with his father’s pharmacy sparked an early interest in chemistry, although Pauling himself attributed his decision to enter a career in science to observing a boyhood friend’s experiments with a chemistry set and to his fascination with scientists portrayed in novels. His father’s early death forced the family to survive by running a boarding house. From about age thirteen Pauling took various jobs, from delivery boy to movie projectionist, to help his family, while conducting chemistry experiments in a makeshift basement laboratory at home. He entered Oregon State Agricultural College (later Oregon State University) at age sixteen, without completing high school, to major in chemical engineering. There he met his future wife, Ava Helen Miller, while he was teaching undergraduate chemistry though still a student. In 1922 he graduated summa cum laude and then entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Pauling and Miller married in 1923; they had four children....

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Rabinowitch, Eugene (26 August 1901–15 May 1973), chemist and scientific activist and popularizer, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia; information about his parents is not available. He was a student at the University of St. Petersburg, specializing in chemistry. In 1926 he completed a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Berlin. During this period of his life, he married Anya (surname not known); they had two sons. In 1933 the family left Germany for Copenhagen, where Rabinowitch worked with Niels Bohr at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. He later studied at University College, London. He brought his family to the United States in 1938 so that he could take part in a solar energy research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1942 Rabinowitch joined the Metallurgical Project of the Manhattan Engineer District at the University of Chicago, known as the “Met Lab,” where he was a senior chemist and a section chief on the Manhattan Project. The main task of the Met Lab was to develop procedures for the large-scale production of plutonium. Work on “weapons theory”—that is, on theoretical aspects of bomb construction—was transferred to Los Alamos in early 1943; thus Met Lab scientists played a relatively minor part in the final stages of the Manhattan Project (which would result in the successful production of the atomic bombs used against Japan in 1945)....

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Reed, Philip Dunham (16 November 1899–10 March 1989), corporation executive and internationalist, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of William Dennis Reed, an insurance company executive, and Virginia Brandreth Dunham. He received the B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin with his class of 1921 despite an interruption for army training toward the end of World War I....

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Carl Sagan. Courtesy of Cornell University.

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Sagan, Carl (09 November 1934–20 December 1996), space scientist, author, science popularizer, TV personality, and antinuclear weapons activist, was born Carl Edward Sagan in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Rachel Molly Gruber Sagan and garment industry worker Samuel Sagan, an immigrant from the Ukraine. Carl Sagan's Jewish background encouraged him “to ask questions early,” as he later observed (Davidson, p. 57); so did his mother's skeptical, sometimes acidic personality. At age five, he became interested in astronomy when he read in a library book that the stars are distant versions of our sun. His interest in science soared when his parents took him to the New York World's Fair of 1939–1940, which offered an optimistic and (as he later acknowledged) “extremely technocratic” view of the future (Davidson, p. 14)....

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Strong, Harriet Williams Russell (23 July 1844–16 September 1926), agribusinesswoman, inventor, and engineer, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Henry Pierrepont Russell and Mary Guest Musier. Her family moved to California in the 1850s, and Harriet attended the Mary Atkins...