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Alexander, De Alva Stanwood (17 July 1845–30 January 1925), congressman and historian, was born in Richmond, Maine, the son of Stanwood Alexander and Priscilla Brown. When his father died in 1852, Alexander and his mother moved to Ohio, where he lived until his enlistment, at the age of sixteen, in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. After the war he completed his education at the Edward Little Institute in Auburn, Maine, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1870. He later served for several years on Bowdoin’s board of overseers. In 1871 he married Alice Colby; their childless union ended with her death in 1890....

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Barnwell, Robert Woodward (10 August 1801–25 November 1882), educator, congressman, and U.S. and Confederate senator, was born at Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Robert Gibbes Barnwell, a prosperous planter and Federalist member of Congress, and Elizabeth Wigg Hayne. In 1817 he entered Harvard College, where he became friendly with ...

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Bennett, Henry Garland (14 December 1886–22 December 1951), university and government administrator, was born near New Hope in Nevada County, Arkansas, the son of Thomas Jefferson Bennett, a blind evangelist, and Mary Elizabeth Bright. At the age of eight, Henry was enrolled in the primary department (laboratory school) at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, where he remained until 1907, when he received the bachelor of arts degree. Following graduation, he earned a teaching certificate, taught in a business college in Texarkana, sold textbooks, and finally entered the public educational system in Oklahoma, subsequently holding teaching or administrative positions in Boswell, Choctaw County, and Hugo. Bennett secured a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1924, and Columbia University granted him the Ph.D. in 1926 for a dissertation entitled “The Coordination of the State Institutions of Higher Education in Oklahoma.” In Hugo, Bennett met Vera Pearl Connell, the daughter of a lawyer and federal judge who resided in Durant. The couple were married in January 1913; they had five children....

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Albert J. Beveridge Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach, 1922. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89794).

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Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah (06 October 1862–27 April 1927), U.S. senator and historian, was born in Highland County, Ohio, the son of Thomas Beveridge and Frances Parkinson, farmers. The family moved to Illinois when Beveridge was a child. Because of his father’s financial difficulties, Beveridge worked as a plowboy, railroad section hand, logger, and teamster. He attended Asbury College (now DePauw University), graduating in 1885. He made his mark there in oratory, and he had a reputation throughout his life as a spellbinding public speaker. He was admitted to the bar in 1887. He married Katherine Langsdale that same year; she died in 1900. He married Catherine Eddy in 1907; they had two children....

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Bissell, Richard Mervin, Jr. (18 September 1909–07 February 1994), economics professor and government administrator, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Richard Bissell, a wealthy insurance executive, and Marie Truesdel. As a young man, Bissell studied at elite educational institutions, including Groton School; Yale University, where he received a B.A. in 1932; and the London School of Economics, where he began his postgraduate work. In 1933 he returned to Yale as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor before earning his Ph.D. in economics in 1939. In 1940 he married Ann Cornelia Bushnell; they had five children. Described by one friend as “desperately shy,” Bissell seemed destined in 1941 to remain a university educator and scholar. However, the outbreak of World War II dramatically changed his life, as he left Yale to become a member of ...

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Bruce, William Cabell (12 March 1860–09 May 1946), author, municipal politician, reformer, and U.S. senator, was born at “Staunton Hill,” his father’s plantation, in Charlotte County, Virginia, the son of Charles Bruce, a planter, Virginia state senator, and captain during the Civil War, and Sarah Alexander Seddon, both members of established, affluent families in Virginia. Although the Bruce family lost much of their wealth during the Civil War, William still grew up surrounded by maids, servants, tailors, and tutors. Bruce’s mother, a devout Christian, instilled in William strong religious beliefs that influenced his character throughout his formative years....

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Burdick, Usher Lloyd (21 February 1879–19 August 1960), author, educator, and legislator, was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, the son of Ozias Burdick and Lucy Farnum, farmers. In 1882 the family settled in Graham’s Island in the Dakota Territory, where Burdick attended local public schools and learned the Sioux Indian language and customs. Following his graduation from the State Normal School at Mayville, North Dakota, in 1900, he worked for two years as deputy superintendent of schools in Benson County, North Dakota. In 1901 he married Emma Rassmussen, and they had two sons and a daughter. Frustrated by local politics, Burdick changed career objectives and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he taught in a business college while attending the University of Minnesota’s law program, from which he graduated in 1904. He also played football at the university, which won the Big Ten championships in 1903 and 1904. After graduating he returned to Munich, North Dakota, where he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law....

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Michael H. Cardozo. Courtesy of Michael H. Cardozo V.

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Cardozo, Michael H. (15 September 1910–20 October 1996), lawyer, educator, and government adviser, was born Michael Hart Cardozo IV in New York City, the son of Ernest Abraham Cardozo, a lawyer, and Emily Rebecca Wolff Cardozo. He was a first cousin of United States Supreme Court Justice ...

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Shirley Chisholm. Announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination, 25 January, 1972. Photograph by Thomas J. O'Halloran. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-ppmsc-01264).

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Chisholm, Shirley (30 November 1924–01 January 2005), first African-American congresswoman and educator, was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Charles Christopher St. Hill, a factory worker, and Ruby Seale, a seamstress and domestic worker. She was sent to Barbados for economic reasons at the age of three, where she lived on her maternal grandmother's farm and attended elementary school. Upon returning to New York seven years later she attended local public schools and graduated from Girls' High School in 1942. Despite scholarship offers her family lacked the funds to help her attend a more distant college, so she entered nearby (and tuition-free) Brooklyn College with the intent of becoming a teacher. She became interested in politics while earning her B.A....

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Cooper, William John (24 November 1882–19 September 1935), educator and U.S. commissioner of education, was born in Sacramento, California, the son of William James Cooper, a painter, and Belle Stanley Leary. Cooper spent most of his childhood in Red Bluff City, California. He received his A.B. in Latin and history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1906 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1908 he married Edna Curtis. They had three children. He later returned to Berkeley for his M.A. in education and history in 1917....

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Crary, Isaac Edwin (02 October 1804–08 May 1854), congressman and educator, was born in Preston, Connecticut, the son of Elisha Crary and Nabby Avery, farmers. He graduated from Trinity College in 1827 and spent two years practicing law in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1832 Crary moved to Marshall, Michigan, where he established that town’s first law firm. While law remained Crary’s profession, the advancement of education was his avocation, and he was instrumental in making Michigan a leader in the field of public education during the nineteenth century....

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Dennett, Tyler Wilbur (13 June 1883–29 December 1949), historian, government official, and college president, was born in Spencer, Wisconsin, the son of William Eugene Dennett, a Baptist preacher, and Roxena Tyler. He attended a small school in Pascaog, Rhode Island, where his parents moved shortly after he was born, and then the Friends School in Providence. His higher education included one year at Bates College in Maine and three years at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he was a scholarship student, edited the school paper, and played football....

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Douglas, Paul Howard (26 March 1892–24 September 1976), economist, educator, and U.S. senator, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of James Howard Douglas and Annie Smith. The latter, a laborer, died when Paul was four. His father remarried but soon became an alcoholic and abandoned his wife and son. Douglas worked his way through Bowdoin College, from which he received a B.A. in 1913, and won a scholarship to Columbia University, where he earned an M.A. in 1915 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1921....

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Du Bois, William Ewing (15 December 1810–14 July 1881), U.S. Mint official and numismatist, was born at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the son of the Reverend Uriah Du Bois, a Presbyterian clergyman and school principal, and Martha Patterson, the daughter of Robert Patterson, the director of the U.S. Mint from 1806 to 1824. Du Bois studied at the Union Academy of Doylestown, where his father was principal, and later at John Gummere’s school in Burlington, New Jersey. Becoming a lawyer in his early twenties, Du Bois published in April 1832 a lengthy transcript of a recent celebrated trial. Lucretia Chapman, who had allegedly murdered her husband, William Chapman, by putting arsenic in his chicken soup, had twelve days later married her lodger Lino Amalia Espos y Mina. Chapman had claimed that her husband had died of cholera; and the jury had found her not guilty....

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Eisenhower, Milton Stover (15 September 1899–02 May 1985), government official and university president, was born in Abilene, Kansas, the son of David Eisenhower, a mechanic at a local creamery, and Ida Stover. Of Pennsylvania Dutch stock, David raised his six sons to be fiercely independent while Ida nurtured them in the values of the River Brethren Church. “Opportunity is all about you,” was the Eisenhower creed. “Reach out and take it.”...

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Elliott, Harriet Wiseman (10 July 1884–06 August 1947), educator, political organizer, and government official, was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the daughter of Allan Curtis Elliott, a merchant who extended easy credit to poor coal miners, and Elizabeth Ann White, a staunch supporter of ...

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English, William Hayden (27 August 1822–07 February 1896), congressman, vice presidential candidate, and historian, was born in Lexington, Indiana, the son of Elisha G. English and Mahala Eastin. Elisha, a landowner and railroad vice president, was a Democrat who served in the Indiana legislature for nearly twenty years and was friends with many important politicians. William benefited from his father’s contacts and status and was influenced by his views....