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Barron, Jennie Loitman (12 October 1891–28 March 1969), suffragist, lawyer, and judge, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Morris Loitman, a needle trades worker and later an insurance agent, and Fannie Castelman, a needle trades worker. From her Russian immigrant parents, Jennie Loitman learned the value of education. She graduated from grammar school at age twelve and from Boston’s Girls High School at age fifteen. While in high school she worked as an after school “hand” in a shoe factory. She taught Americanization classes in the evening and sold copies of William Shakespeare’s works door to door to pay her way through Boston University, where she received three degrees, an A.B. in 1911, an LL.B. in 1913, and an LL.M. in 1914....

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Bittenbender, Ada Matilda Cole (03 August 1848–15 December 1925), lawyer and suffragist, was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Daniel Cole, an inventor and Civil War veteran, and Emily A. Madison. After some local schooling, she attended Lowell’s Commercial College in Binghamton, New York, graduating in 1869. She then attended the Pennsylvania State Normal School at Bloomsburg from 1874 to 1875, teaching there for one year after her graduation. From 1876 to 1877 she attended the Froebel Normal Institute in Washington, D.C. After graduating, she returned to Bloomsburg and served as principal of the Pennsylvania State Normal School, but she resigned after one year for reasons of health....

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Inez Milholland Boissevain Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0661-B).

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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Couzins, Phoebe Wilson (08 September 1839?–06 December 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and lecturer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of John Edward Decker Couzins, a carpenter and builder, and Adaline Weston. Her parents were both politically active. Her father held the posts of chief of police of St. Louis and U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri. Her mother served as a nurse to the Western Sanitary Commission during the Civil War where she provided aid to wounded and sick soldiers. Both parents instilled in their daughter an activist spirit....

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Foltz, Clara Shortridge (16 July 1849–02 September 1934), first woman lawyer on the Pacific Coast, suffrage leader, and founder of the public defender movement, was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the only daughter of Elias Shortridge and Talitha Harwood. Trained as a lawyer, Elias Shortridge turned instead to preaching among the Disciples of Christ and in 1860 became pastor to a well-established church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. For a few years, Clara attended the progressive Howe’s Academy until her father was expelled from his congregation for unorthodoxy. She then became a teacher herself in nearby Illinois before eloping—at the age of fifteen—with a handsome Union soldier, Jeremiah Foltz. During hard years on an Iowa farm, she bore four children....

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Gordon, Laura de Force (17 August 1838–05 April 1907), suffragist, newspaper publisher, and attorney, was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Abram de Force and Catherine Doolittle Allan. Her mother helped support the family through needlework because her father suffered from rheumatism and could not work. Gordon was educated in the public schools, and at age seventeen she changed her religious affiliation from Congregationalist to Christian Spiritualist. She soon began a career as a traveling trance speaker, touring New York and her native Pennsylvania. Her lectures were well received by audiences and the press, and she expanded her territory in the 1860s to include Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey....

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Grossman, Mary Belle (10 June 1879–27 January 1977), suffragist, attorney, and judge, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Louis Grossman, the proprietor of a meat and hardware business, and Fannie Engle. Grossman attended Cleveland public schools and graduated from the old Central High School and from the Euclid Avenue Business College. She worked in the law office of a cousin, Louis J. Grossman, from 1896 to 1912. She decided that a career as a lawyer was preferable to that of a stenographer and bookkeeper and enrolled in 1909 in the evening program of Cleveland Law School (now a part of Cleveland State University), the first law school in Ohio to accept women. She was awarded her LL.B. in 1912 and passed the Ohio bar examination that same year. After practicing law in her cousin’s office for two years, she established her own law office and engaged in the solo practice of law through 1923. She never married....

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Haskell, Ella Louise Knowles (31 July 1860–27 January 1911), lawyer and suffragist, was born in Northwood Ridge, New Hampshire, the daughter of Louisa Bigelow and David Knowles, farmers. After graduating from Northwood Seminary (1875) and Plymouth State Normal College (1876), she taught school for four years to save money for further study. Manifesting ambition and persistence, she contested her society’s conventions of gender and attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Few women had previously attended the school, but she edited a college magazine and won prizes in debating and oratory before graduating with high honors in 1884. Knowles then moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where she studied law in the office of Henry E. Burnham, later a U.S. senator....

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Kilgore, Carrie Sylvester Burnham (20 January 1838–29 June 1909), lawyer and suffragist, was born in Craftsbury, Vermont, the daughter of James Elisah Burnham, a prosperous woolen manufacturer, and Eliza Annis Arnold, a schoolteacher and artist. Her mother died before Carrie was three, and her father died when she was twelve. Their deaths left her in the custody of guardians who believed she had received enough education for a woman and required her to work long hours in the family factory and kitchen. She took a position as a schoolteacher at fifteen, and she was able to continue her education with earnings from various jobs. She began her studies at Craftsbury Academy in Vermont and later studied in Newbury, Vermont (later Wesleyan Seminary), where she studied classics. The combined demands of work and schooling took their toll. Overworked and undernourished, she developed typhoid fever. After recovering, she went to live with her older sister in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where she taught classics and mathematics for the next five years. She also taught physiology and drawing at Evansville Seminary....

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Ricker, Marilla Marks Young (18 March 1840–12 November 1920), lawyer and suffragist, was born in New Durham, New Hampshire, the daughter of Hannah Stevens and Jonathan B. Young. Her freethinking father introduced her to women’s rights doctrines, and, as a central part of her education, she accompanied him to town meetings and court proceedings. Beginning at age sixteen she taught school. In 1863 she married John Ricker, an elderly farmer who also believed in gender equality. His death five years later left her with no children and with an inheritance that rendered her financially independent. For four years in the 1870s she lived in Europe, where she learned foreign cultures and languages and absorbed progressive beliefs about birth control and political equality....

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Waite, Catharine Van Valkenburg (30 January 1829–09 November 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and writer, was born in Dumfries, Canada West, the daughter of Joseph Van Valkenburg and Margaret Page, presumably farmers. Very little is known about Van Valkenburg’s early schooling. When she was seventeen, her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Fort Madison, Iowa. She studied at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and then at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, graduating in 1853. In 1854 she married Charles Burlingame Waite, a judge whom she had met at Knox. The couple had six children, five of whom survived childhood....

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Sue Shelton White. Sue S. White, head and shoulders portrait, facing slightly right, c. 1920. Photographic print. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108594).

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White, Sue Shelton (25 May 1887–06 May 1943), feminist, suffragist, and attorney, was born in Henderson, Tennessee, to James Shelton White and Mary Calista Swain, both educators. The family moved to the small town of Montezuma where James and Mary continued to teach and where James was active in the Methodist ministry. In 1879 the family moved a few miles north to the slightly larger but still rural town of Henderson, where the couple also taught and James became superintendent of schools. After James's death in 1893, Mary struggled to support the family. She sold pianos and books, gave piano and voice lessons, and wrote for the local newspaper while she supervised and tutored her own children. Mary made few gender distinctions in the chores and duties she assigned to her sons and daughters, and young Sue, named for her father's sister, spent much of her time following her older brothers around and caring for her younger brother. Sue White's lifelong sensitivity on racial issues can be attributed to her mother's activities during these years and the family's residence in what Sue described as a "twilight zone" between white Henderson and an African American community known as "Jaybird." Sue was fourteen years old when her mother died in 1901....