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Colman, Lucy Newhall (26 July 1817–18 January 1906), abolitionist, women's rights advocate, and freethinker, abolitionist, women’s rights advocate, and freethinker, was born in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Erastus Danforth, a blacksmith, and Hannah Newhall. Her mother died in 1824, and Lucy’s aunt, Lois Newhall, acted “in the place of a mother” and in 1833 married Erastus Danforth, officially becoming Lucy’s stepmother....

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Cowles, Betsey Mix (09 February 1810–25 July 1876), educator and reformer, was born in Bristol, Connecticut, the daughter of Giles Hooker Cowles, a Congregationalist minister, and Sally White. To support their family of eight children, Cowles’s parents moved the family to the fledgling town of Austinburg in Ohio’s western reserve shortly after her birth. Two more children came along later. Cowles’s early education took place in subscription schools. Before the spread of state-funded public schools, parents who wished to educate their children had to make arrangements with traveling schoolmasters. Cowles herself joined the ranks of such teachers at age sixteen and taught in many communities throughout northeastern Ohio and western New York....

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Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-37939).

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Davis, Paulina Kellogg Wright (07 August 1813–24 August 1876), abolitionist, suffragist, and educator, was born in Bloomfield, New York, the daughter of Captain Ebenezer Kellogg and Polly Saxton. In 1817 the family moved to an undeveloped area near Niagara Falls. Davis’s enjoyment of the frontier’s exhilirating freedom ended with the deaths of her parents. In 1820 she went to live with a strict orthodox Presbyterian aunt in LeRoy, New York, where she was educated and attended church regularly....

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Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease

Foster, Abby Kelley (15 January 1811–14 January 1887), abolitionist and feminist, was born Abigail Kelley in Pelham, Massachusetts, the daughter of Wing Kelley, a farmer and sawmill operator, and Diana Daniels. Her family moved to the Worcester area in 1811, and there Abby attended the common schools. In 1826 she finished her education at the Friends boarding school in Providence, Rhode Island. For five or six years thereafter she lived at home and taught in local schools....

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Frances Gage Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92766).

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Gage, Frances Dana Barker (12 October 1808–10 November 1884), reformer, lecturer, and author, was born on a farm in Union Township, Washington County, Ohio, the daughter of Joseph Barker and Elizabeth Dana, farmers. The rugged conditions of farm life bred in her a hardiness and resourcefulness that served her well as an adult....

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Grew, Mary (01 September 1813–10 October 1896), abolitionist and women's rights advocate, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Kate Merrow and the Reverend Henry Grew. Grew’s father, an English-born Baptist minister, was well off, and Mary was always materially comfortable. She attended the Hartford Female Seminary, established and directed by ...

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Griffing, Josephine Sophia White (18 December 1814–18 February 1872), abolitionist, women's rights activist, and freedmen's aid reformer, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and freedmen’s aid reformer, was born in Hebron, Connecticut, the daughter of Joseph White and Sophia Waldo, farmers. Both parents were from prominent New England families. Though not much is known of Josephine’s childhood and education, she embarked on a life of public activism after her marriage in 1835 to Charles Stockman Spooner Griffing....

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Angelina Emily Grimké. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ61-1609).

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Grimké, Angelina Emily (20 February 1805–26 October 1879), abolitionist and women's rights activist, abolitionist and women’s rights activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of John Faucheraud Grimké, a planter and judge, and Mary Smith. A member of one of the wealthiest and most aristocratic families in Charleston, her father, who had been a captain in the American Revolution, traced his descent from the city’s earliest Huguenot and German settlers and held the post of senior associate, equivalent to chief justice, of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Her mother’s family had included two colonial governors. From an early age both Angelina and her older sister ...

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Sarah Moore Grimké. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ61-1608).

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Grimké, Sarah Moore (26 November 1792–23 December 1873), abolitionist, writer-educator, and women's rights pioneer, abolitionist, writer-educator, and women’s rights pioneer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of John Faucheraud Grimké, chief judge of the state supreme court, and Mary Smith. Sarah was educated by private tutors in subjects considered proper for well-bred southern girls—among them, French, watercolors, harpsichord, and embroidery. But from her older brother Thomas, a student at Yale, she learned Latin, Greek, mathematics, and geography. Raised in the upper classes of Charleston, Sarah gained firsthand experience with prosperity’s underside, African slavery. Her father “owned” several hundred slaves, some of whom she taught to read before he (and the law of the state) forbade it....

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Jones, Jane Elizabeth (13 March 1813–13 January 1896), antislavery and women's rights lecturer, antislavery and women’s rights lecturer, was born Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock at Vernon, Oneida County, New York, the daughter of Reuben Hitchcock and Electa Spaulding. Although there is little record of her early years, accounts suggest that the family was financially comfortable and that she had a “pampered and protected” childhood....

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Mary Ann Wilson M'Clintock. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-49488).

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M’Clintock, Mary Ann Wilson (20 February 1800–21 May 1884), and Thomas M’Clintock (28 March 1792–19 March 1876), Quakers, abolitionists, and key organizers of the first Woman's Rights Convention, were Quakers, abolitionists, and key organizers of the first Woman’s Rights Convention. The location of Mary Ann Wilson’s birth is unknown; she was the daughter of John Pyle and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Thomas was born in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware, the son of Thomas M’Clintock and Mary Allen. Nothing more is known of their parents or their early education. Thomas and Mary Ann were married at the Burlington, New Jersey, Friends meetinghouse in 1820 and thereafter lived in Philadelphia, where Thomas had been working as a druggist since about 1814. They had five children....

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See M’Clintock, Mary Ann Wilson

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James Mott. Right, with Gardiner Stow. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90671).

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Mott, James (29 June 1788–26 January 1868), merchant and reformer, was born at Cowneck (later North Hempstead), New York, the son of Adam Mott, a farmer and miller, and Anne Mott (Mott was both her maiden and her married name). Both parents were descended from a seventeenth-century Quaker emigrant from England, and Mott was brought up in a close-knit community of Long Island Friends. He received his education at a Friends’ boarding school at Nine Partners in New York’s Dutchess County. He excelled at Nine Partners and, after ten years, was appointed an assistant teacher and then a teacher. At the school he met Lucretia Coffin ( ...

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Lucretia Mott. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42559 ).