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Arthur, Timothy Shay (06 June 1809–06 March 1885), editor, temperance crusader, and novelist, was born in Orange County, New York, the son of William Arthur and Anna Shay, occupations unknown. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Timothy Shay, an officer in the revolutionary war. By his mid-twenties, Arthur had yet to identify a profession or receive an education. In the 1830s, however, he began an intense program of self-education as well as a writing career as a journalist in Baltimore, where he quickly became a well-known and articulate champion of numerous social causes including temperance, Swedenborgianism, feminism, and socialism. In 1836 he married Eliza Alden; they had seven children....

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Bloomer, Amelia Jenks (27 May 1818–30 December 1894), temperance and women's rights reformer and editor, temperance and women’s rights reformer and editor, was born in Homer, New York, the daughter of Ananias Jenks, a clothier, and Lucy Webb. She received a basic education in Homer’s district schools and by the age of seventeen was teaching in Clyde, New York. After a year of teaching, Bloomer became a governess and tutor for a Waterloo, New York, family....

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Bolton, Sarah Knowles (15 September 1841–20 February 1916), writer and reform activist, was born in Farmington, Connecticut, the daughter of John Segar Knowles and Elizabeth Miller, farmers. Bolton was a descendant, on her father’s side, of Joseph Jenckes, a governor of Rhode Island (1772–1732), and on her mother’s side, a descendant of Nathaniel Stanley, a treasurer of the Connecticut Colony....

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Brooks, Walter Henderson (30 August 1851–06 July 1945), clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks’s father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia’s wealthiest citizens, including his wife’s owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife’s freedom in 1862 for $800. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working in hotels, boardinghouses, and restaurants. In his youth he acquired the doctrines that served as the foundation for his life’s work. He learned temperance from his pastor, the Reverend ...

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Cannon, Cornelia James (17 November 1876–01 December 1969), novelist and birth control activist, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Henry Clay James and Frances Haynes. While her father practiced law and speculated in land, her mother helped out the family fortunes by painting; some of her watercolors are now at the Minnesota Historical Society. Cannon grew up in St. Paul and Newport. At Radcliffe College Cannon studied philosophy with ...

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Crothers, Thomas Davison (21 September 1842–12 January 1918), pioneer physician in the medical treatment of inebriety, temperance advocate, and editor, was born in West Charlton, New York, the son of Robert Crothers and Electra Smith. Members of Crothers’s family had taught surgery and medicine at Edinburgh University since the eighteenth century, and, with this influence, after attending the Fort Edward Seminary, he enrolled in Albany Medical College in 1862. With the outbreak of the Civil War Crothers signed on as a medical cadet at the Ira Harris Military College. Awarded his M.D. in 1865, Crothers continued his studies at Long Island College Hospital until he began his medical practice in West Galway, New York, in 1866. Four years later Crothers left West Galway for Albany, where, at his alma mater, he became assistant to the chair of the practice of medicine, lecturer on hygiene, and instructor in physical diagnosis. In 1875 he married Sarah Walton; the couple had no children. He also took a new position in Binghamton, New York, home of the nation’s first hospital for inebriates, the New York State Inebriate Asylum. There Crothers received his formal introduction to the medical treatment of inebriety. In 1878 he established his own private inebriate asylum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Walnut Hill Asylum (known after 1880 as the Walnut Lodge Hospital)....

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Everett, Robert (02 January 1791–25 February 1875), Congregational minister, publisher, and reformer, was born in Gronant, North Wales, the son of Lewis Everett and Jane Parry. The manager of a lead mine, Lewis Everett was also a Congregational lay preacher who raised his eleven children in a deeply religious atmosphere. Having decided at eighteen to enter the ministry, Robert studied theology at the Independent College at Wrexham and in 1815 was ordained pastor of the Swan Lane Welsh Congregational Church at Denbigh....

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Funk, Isaac Kauffman (10 September 1839–04 April 1912), publisher and reformer, was born near Clifton, Ohio, the son of John Funk and Martha Kauffman, farmers. Funk graduated from Wittenberg College in 1860 and from its theological seminary the following year. He subsequently held pastorates at Lutheran churches near Moreshill, Indiana, and in Carey, Ohio, before moving to St. Matthews’ English Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, where he remained the longest. In 1863 he married Eliza Thompson; they had two children. The year after his wife’s death in 1868 he married her sister, Helen G. Thompson. The couple had one son....

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Goodell, William (25 October 1792–14 February 1878), religious reformer, was born in Coventry, New York, the son of Frederick Goodell and Rhoda Guernsey. Goodell’s parents were Connecticut natives who became pioneer settlers in upper New York State. During his childhood Goodell suffered a “crippling disease” that kept him bedridden for several years; this confinement resulted in his cultivating a lifelong interest in religious reading and writing. After the death of his parents, Goodell went to live in Pomfret, Connecticut, with his paternal grandmother, a convert of evangelist ...

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Hasbrouck, Lydia Sayer (20 December 1827–24 August 1910), dress reformer and editor, was born in Warwick, New York, the daughter of Benjamin Sayer, a farmer and distiller, and Rebecca Forshee, a farmer. Lydia grew up in comfortable surroundings as the farm prospered and the family grew in social prominence. The spirited and daring Lydia developed into a skilled horsewoman who had a penchant for reading. Her desire for a superior education led her to leave the Warwick district school and enter Miss Galatian’s Select School. She then attended high school and Central College in Elmira, New York....

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Little, Sophia Louisa Robbins (1799–1893), writer and reformer, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of U.S. senator Asher Robbins, an attorney, and Mary Ellery. Educated locally, she married William Little, Jr., of Boston in 1824; they had three children. Her first publication was a poem, “Thanksgiving,” included in a Boston gift book, ...

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Parker, Pat (20 Jan. 1944–17 June 1989), poet, performer, health care administrator, and lesbian-feminist activist, was born Patricia Ann Cooks in Houston, Texas, the youngest of five children of Marie Louise Anderson Cooks, a domestic worker, and Ernest Nathaniel Cooks, who worked as a roofer in the summer and retreaded tires in the winter. Later the family moved outside of Houston to a small, tin-roofed house with an outhouse. Pat recalled writing at an early age, particularly composing greeting cards for festive occasions. In high school, she joined the staff of the local black newspaper and became the first woman junior editor of her school newspaper. She also served as editor her senior year and graduated from Houston’s Evan E. Worthing Senior High School in ...

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Rich, Adrienne (16 May 1929–27 March 2012), poet, essayist, and lesbian-feminist activist, was born Adrienne Cecile Rich in Baltimore, Maryland, to Arnold Rice Rich and Helen Elizabeth Jones Rich, both southerners. Her father, a pathologist and highly regarded professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School, was renowned for his work ethic and brilliant lectures, but feared for his critical, exacting standards. Her mother was a gifted pianist, piano teacher, and composer. She married late because she pursues her musical career, but then gave it up, as housewives were expected to do, to care for her family. Until she was four Adrienne had an African American nanny, as was also common in her milieu. She and her younger sister, Cynthia, were home schooled until Adrienne was nine, which was less common, but fostered both an extraordinary ability for independent work and a need for community which became a central theme of Rich’s later writing. At home both girls read widely, especially in the classics. Their father particularly valued formal, traditional poetry which she began writing as a very young child, largely to satisfy him. In a household not given to playfulness, she indulged her zeal for storytelling privately. Rich’s parents urged their daughters to work hard, aim high, and see themselves as special. That message had to be squared, however, with the model of their mother’s sacrifice to their father’s success. Adrienne tried hard to please, but she was also quick-tempered, and even when young, stubbornly insistent on her own strong sense of right and wrong....

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Shilts, Randy Martin (08 August 1951–17 February 1994), journalist, was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Bud Shilts, a salesman of prefabricated housing, and Norma (maiden name unknown). Neither of his parents graduated from high school. They raised four sons in a politically conservative Methodist family. Young Randy Shilts grew up in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he organized a local chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and graduated from a public high school. Shilts entered the University of Oregon in 1969. Two years later he openly acknowledged his homosexuality and became a leader in the Gay People’s Alliance in Eugene. In his senior year Shilts ran unsuccessfully for student body president on the slogan “Come Out for Shilts.” After completing requirements for graduation with honors in English literature, Shilts decided that he “didn’t know how to write.” Changing his major to journalism, he learned that he could write well, won several journalism awards, and served as managing editor of the campus newspaper. In 1975 Shilts graduated at the top of his class with a B.S. in journalism....

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Stoddard, Cora Frances (17 September 1872–13 May 1936), temperance educator and writer, was born in Irvington, Nebraska, the daughter of Emerson Hathaway Stoddard and Julia Frances Miller, farmers. Her parents moved the family from their farm in Nebraska to their native East when Cora was a child. In East Brookfield, Massachusetts, her mother and father joined the temperance movement, and Julia Stoddard soon rose in prominence to become the president of the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Her mother’s dedication to temperance, coupled with her writing and editing skills, served as a model for Stoddard’s activism in the temperance movement and her writing proficiency. Stoddard received a public school education and then went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1896. She taught high school for one year in Middletown, Connecticut, then was employed for two years in the business field....

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Taylor, Valerie, (7 Sept. 1913–22 Oct. 1997), feminist novelist and radical activist, was born Velma Nacella Young in Aurora, Illinois, to Elsie M. Collins and Marshall J. Young in a family of independent Midwestern farmers and feminists. In addition to economic hardships, undiagnosed polio that resulted in curvature of the spine as well as her extreme nearsightedness were early challenges in her life. They did not keep her from excelling, and she graduated from the local high school in ...

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Terhune, Mary Virginia Hawes (21 December 1830–03 June 1922), novelist and domestic expert, was born in Dennisville, Amelia County, Virginia. She was the second of seven surviving children of Samuel Pierce Hawes, a merchant originally from Massachusetts, and Judith Anna Smith Hawes, the daughter of well-to-do Virginia planters. Mary Virginia’s father gave his precocious daughter early access to classic literature and provided her with a broad education unusual for a southern girl of the period. She was schooled at home by tutors and governesses and spent two years attending a Presbyterian girls’ seminary in Richmond after the family moved to that city in 1845....