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Ayer, Harriet Hubbard (27 June 1849–23 November 1903), businesswoman and journalist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Henry George Hubbard, a real estate dealer, and Juliet Elvira Smith. Her father died when Harriet was three years old, but his legacy of valuable land purchases enabled the family to live comfortably. Poor health limited Harriet’s early education to private tutors. Although Episcopalian, she entered the Catholic Convent of the Sacred Heart at the age of twelve, graduating three years later....

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Nellie Bly. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97447).

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Bly, Nellie (05 May 1864–27 January 1922), reporter and manufacturer, was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael Cochran, a mill owner and associate justice of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and Mary Jane Kennedy Cummings. Judge Cochran, the father of fifteen children by two wives, died suddenly without a will in 1870, leaving Mary Jane with little money. Mary Jane’s abusive third marriage to John Jackson Ford ended in divorce in 1878, and “Pink,” as Elizabeth Jane was known, at age fifteen, went off to Indiana (Pa.) Normal School, adding a final ...

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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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Cannon, Poppy (2 Aug. 1905–1 April 1975), cookbook author, journalist, and advertising executive, was born Lillian Gruskin in Cape Town, South Africa, to Robert and Henrietta Gruskin, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. (Henrietta’s maiden name is unknown.) The family moved to the United States in ...

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Claiborne, Craig (04 September 1920–22 January 2000), food journalist and restaurant critic, was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, the son of Lewis Edmond Claiborne, a cotton grower and local bank officer, and Mary Kathleen Craig Claiborne. His father lost his lands and fortune shortly after Craig's birth and never again held gainful employment. His mother moved the family to the larger town of Indianola and opened a boarding house. She became famous for her high-quality meals, prepared by black cooks using her recipes. Craig grew up savoring outstanding southern cooking. After graduating from Indianola High School, he attended Mississippi State College before moving to the University of Missouri, where he received a B.A. in journalism in 1942....

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Arturo Giovannitti Right, with Joseph J. Ettor, center, and Joseph Caruso. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108488).

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Giovannitti, Arturo Massimo (07 January 1884–31 December 1959), poet, journalist, and labor leader, was born in Ripabottoni (Molise), Italy, the son of Domenico Giovannitti, a physician and pharmacist, and Adelaide Levante. Raised in a family of middle-class professionals in southern Italy, Arturo Giovannitti was educated at the Collegio Mario Pagano in Campobasso, the regional capital, where he first demonstrated his literary ability by winning a national contest for poetry. Rather than attend university in Italy, Giovannitti decided to “visit the world,” immigrating to Canada by himself at age sixteen or seventeen. Little is known about Giovannitti’s activities in Canada before he enrolled in a theological seminary affiliated with McGill University in Montreal and became a pastor’s assistant at a Presbyterian mission for Italians. His early attraction to Protestantism has never been adequately explained....

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Haessler, Carl (05 August 1888–01 December 1972), journalist and socialist trade unionist, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Herman F. Haessler and Elizabeth Wagner. The political life of that city was dominated at that time by immigrant German social democrats. Haessler earned a B.A. at the University of Milwaukee, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied for two years. He completed his formal education with a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois, where he also taught. In 1917 he married Mildred Barnes; they had two children....

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Hutton, E. F. (07 September 1875–11 July 1962), stockbroker, businessman, and syndicated columnist, was born Edward Francis Hutton in New York City, the son of farmer James Laws Hutton, an Ohioan who moved to New York to seek work. His mother’s name is not known....

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Jackson, Gardner (10 September 1896–17 April 1965), newspaperman, public official, and liberal gadfly, also known as “Pat,” was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the son of William Sharpless Jackson, a wealthy banker and railroad magnate, and Helen Banfield. In the Jackson family, affluence mingled with sympathy for the oppressed: Jackson’s father was a Quaker, and his mother was the niece of his father’s late and revered second wife, ...

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Lewis, Augusta (1848–14 September 1920), journalist and labor leader, was born in New York City, the daughter of Charles Lewis and Elizabeth Rowe, occupations unknown. Having lost both her parents while still an infant, Lewis was raised by Isaac Baldwin Gager, a commission merchant in Brooklyn Heights. She received her early education at home, after which she lived for several seasons with one of her private teachers in Cold Spring, New York. Returning to New York City, she studied at Brooklyn Heights Seminary and then entered the Sacred Heart Convent School in Manhattanville, New York, from which she graduated with honors....

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Root, Waverley (15 April 1903–31 October 1982), writer and journalist, was born Waverley Lewis Root in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Francis Solomon Root and Florence Mae Lewis. When Root was seven years old, his family moved to Fall River, Massachusetts, where he attended the public schools. In 1920 he enrolled in Tufts University, where he worked as a campus reporter for Boston newspapers and the Associated Press, wrote for the student paper, and began a major in English. Dissatisfied with the English department, Root changed his major to psychology and talked the college administration into allowing him to teach his own course in American literature. In 1923 he left Tufts without a degree and moved to New York City. For the next few years he wrote theater and music criticism and fiction for a number of publications and a few book reviews for the ...

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Stevens, Alzina Ann Parsons (27 May 1849–03 June 1900), printer, labor organizer, journalist, and settlement worker, was born in Parsonsfield, Maine, the daughter of Enoch Parsons, a farmer and carpenter, and Louisa Page. While Alzina Parsons was still young, her father gave up farming and settled the family in the mill town of Somersworth, New Hampshire, where she attended high school. A lifetime of self-supporting work began after her father’s death in 1864, when she took a job in a textile mill....

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Valesh, Eva McDonald (09 September 1866–08 November 1956), journalist and trade union leader, was born in Orono, Maine, the daughter of John McDonald, a carpenter, and Ellen Lane. She graduated from high school, took the teachers’ course at the University of Minnesota, and trained as an apprentice printer at the ...

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Vanderbilt, Amy (22 July 1908–22 December 1974), journalist, was born in Staten Island, New York, the daughter of Joseph Mortimer Vanderbilt, an insurance broker, and Mary Estelle Brooks. At the age of sixteen, while still a student at Curtis High School, she became the society writer for the Staten Island ...

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Vorse, Mary Heaton (09 October 1874–14 June 1966), feminist, journalist, and labor reform writer, was born Mary Heaton in New York City, the daughter of Hiram Heaton and Ellen Blackman. Her parents were well-to-do and from old New English stock. Growing up, Mary traveled with them in Europe a great deal. At sixteen she received private tutoring and studied art in Paris. She was determined to escape confining domesticity and pursue a rewarding career....

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Walling, William English (14 March 1877–12 September 1936), writer and reformer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Willoughby Walling, a physician, and Rosalind English, daughter of William Hayden English, an Indiana politician and banker who was a member of Congress and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1880. English, as he was known, enjoyed a childhood of affluence and was in later life “independently wealthy.” He was educated in Edinburgh while his father was U.S. consul there, at a private school in Louisville, and at Hyde Park high school in Chicago....