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Ames, Fanny Baker (14 June 1840–21 August 1931), charity organizer and women's rights advocate, charity organizer and women’s rights advocate, was born Julia Frances Baker in Canandaigua, New York, the daughter of Increase Baker, a coal measurer, and Julia Canfield. In 1857 she completed a one-term preparatory course in teaching at Antioch College in Ohio. She taught for five years in the Cincinnati public school system before volunteering in military hospitals during the Civil War....

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Susan B. Anthony. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-23933).

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Anthony, Susan B. (15 February 1820–13 March 1906), reformer and organizer for woman suffrage, was born Susan Brownell Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, the daughter of Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read. Her father built the town’s first cotton mill. When Susan, the second of eight children, was six, the family moved to Battenville, New York, north of Albany, where Daniel prospered as manager of a larger mill and could send Susan and her sister to a Friends’ seminary near Philadelphia. His good fortune, however, collapsed with the financial crisis of 1837; the mill closed, Susan left boarding school, the family lost its house, and for nearly a decade the family squeaked by, assisted by Susan’s wages as a teacher. Looking for a new start in 1845, Daniel moved to a farm near Rochester, the city that would be Susan’s permanent address for the rest of her life....

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Mary McLeod Bethune Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1949. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 129 P&P).

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Bethune, Mary Jane McLeod (10 July 1875–18 May 1955), organizer of black women and advocate for social justice, was born in Mayesville, South Carolina, the child of former slaves Samuel McLeod and Patsy McIntosh, farmers. After attending a school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, she entered Scotia Seminary (now Barber-Scotia College) in Concord, North Carolina, in 1888 and graduated in May 1894. She spent the next year at ...

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Alice Stone Blackwell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93550).

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Blackwell, Alice Stone (14 September 1857–15 March 1950), women's rights advocate and humanitarian reformer, women’s rights advocate and humanitarian reformer, was born in Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of Henry Browne Blackwell, a hardware merchant, and Lucy Stone, a suffrage leader. Blackwell was surrounded by reform activity from her early childhood on. Both of her parents were prominent suffrage workers and founders of the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). ...

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Bowles, Eva Del Vakia (24 January 1875–14 June 1943), secretary for colored work for the Young Women's Christian Association, secretary for colored work for the Young Women’s Christian Association, was born in Albany, Athens County, Ohio, the daughter of John Hawkes Bowles and Mary Jane Porter. Unlike most African Americans born during the American Reconstruction period, Bowles grew up in comfortable circumstances. Her grandfather John R. Bowles served as a chaplain for the all-black Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry and later became the first black teacher hired by the Ohio Public School Fund. Her father was the first black postal clerk in Columbus, Ohio....

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Carse, Matilda Bradley (19 November 1835–03 June 1917), temperance worker, editor, and entrepreneur, was born near Belfast, Ireland, the daughter of John Bradley and Catherine Cleland, Scottish merchants whose ancestors had migrated to Ireland in the seventeenth century. Educated in Ireland, Carse emigrated in 1858 to Chicago. In 1861 she married Thomas Carse, a railroad manager with whom she had three sons. After her husband’s death in 1870, her youngest son was killed by a drunken drayman, propelling Carse into the temperance cause just as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was organizing. She devoted much of the rest of her life to business and volunteer activities related to that organization....

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Chandler, Lucinda (01 April 1828–09 March 1911), social reformer and feminist, was born Lucinda Banister in Potsdam, New York, the daughter of Silas Banister and Eliza Smith. She attended St. Lawrence Academy until age thirteen, when she was forced to withdraw because of a spinal injury she had received as an infant. This injury was to cause Chandler recurring invalidism but never impeded her feminist efforts. She married John Chandler of Potsdam in 1858 and had one child....

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Diaz, Abby Morton (22 November 1821–01 April 1904), teacher, writer, and social reformer, was born Abigail Morton in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ichabod Morton, a shipbuilder, and Patty Weston. She descended from George Morton, author of “Mourt’s Relation,” the first printed record of the Plymouth settlement. After his wife’s early death, Abby’s father remarried and had five sons....

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Edson, Katherine Philips (12 January 1870–05 November 1933), progressive reformer, was born in Kenton, Ohio, the daughter of William Hunter Philips, a physician and politician, and Harriet Carlin. After attending the Glendale Female Seminary she went to Chicago in 1889, where she studied opera at the Gottschalk Lyric School. There she met and married an instructor and singer, Charles Farwell Edson in 1890; the couple had three children....

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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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Heide, Wilma Scott (26 February 1921–08 May 1985), social reformer and activist, was born in Ferndale, Pennsylvania, the daughter of William Robert Scott, a railroad brakeman, and Ada Long, a schoolteacher and retail clerk. According to Wilma’s friend and biographer, Eleanor Humes Haney, William Scott was a labor union activist who read the classics and discussed intellectual issues with his daughter. Wilma was an excellent student and a leader in her small town high school. She captained a girls’ basketball team and after graduation played semiprofessional ball for a couple of years. Active in a church youth group, she left the Lutheran church in her teens when she discovered women could not be ordained. In June 1938 she graduated from high school and won a scholarship to Seton Hill, a local Catholic women’s college. Her parents would not allow her to accept it, insisting that she contribute to the support of her family. Disappointed, Wilma worked as a clerk, played basketball, and for a brief time was engaged to a local youth. In 1940 she left home to take a job as an attendant in a state mental hospital. Two years later she took a factory job in Cleveland, Ohio, but soon left to pursue a nursing degree at Brooklyn State Hospital in New York....

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Height, Dorothy Irene (24 March 1912–20 April 2010), social worker and civil rights and women’s activist, was born in Richmond, Virginia to James Edward Height and Fannie Burroughs Height. When Dorothy was four the family moved to Rankin, Pennsylvania (outside of Pittsburgh), part of the Great Migration northward by African Americans in the early twentieth century. Her father worked as a building contractor while her mother found employment as a private nurse. Height recalled being influenced by both her father’s activities in the black Baptist church and her mother’s involvement in the black clubwomen’s movement....

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Ellen M. Henrotin Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101785).

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Henrotin, Ellen Martin (06 July 1847–29 June 1922), woman's club leader and social reformer, woman’s club leader and social reformer, was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Edward Byam Martin and Sarah Ellen Norris. Following her birth the family moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and after Ellen’s thirteenth birthday they were transplanted to the British Isle of Wight, where Edward Martin had acquired land. The status and wealth of the family enabled Ellen to be educated in London, Paris, and Dresden schools and to learn many foreign languages. In 1868 the family returned to the United States, making their home in Chicago where her father had numerous investments....

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Heywood, Angela Fiducia Tilton (1840–1935), feminist and social reformer, was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, the daughter of Daniel Tilton and Lucy Locke, farmers. By her own account, Angela’s family was impoverished when she was a young girl. Forced to work at the age of ten as a domestic servant, Angela began her long career as a dressmaker, store clerk, farm worker, and innkeeper. But these occupations only comprised half of her public life. While she had little formal education, she read widely and was part of a circle of abolitionists and transcendentalists that included ...

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Hunter, Jane Edna Harris (13 December 1882–19 January 1971), autobiographer and black women's rights activist, autobiographer and black women’s rights activist, was born in Pendleton, South Carolina, the daughter of Edward Harris and Harriet Millner, sharecroppers. Following her father’s death due to jaundice when she was ten years old, Jane and her three siblings were distributed briefly among the homes of various relatives. His death and the ensuing dispersal of her nuclear family were especially difficult for Jane, in part because she had customarily been “father’s ally in his differences with mother” ( ...

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Lampkin, Daisy Elizabeth Adams (09 August 1888–10 March 1965), civil and women's rights activist, civil and women’s rights activist, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, the daughter of George S. Adams and Rosa Ann Proctor. She attended public schools in Reading and, shortly after graduating, moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1909. In 1912 she married William L. Lampkin, a restaurant owner. The couple did not have any children, but they raised the daughter of a deceased friend....