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Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler (03 April 1817–25 November 1884), suffragist, author, and educator, was born in Lerchenhausen, Westphalia, Germany, the daughter of Karl Giesler, a Catholic landlord and mine owner, and Elisabeth Hülswitt. She grew up comfortably and was well educated, more through learned company than tutors and schools. In fact, as a teacher in later years she would read “Fridjhoff’s saga to her pupils and recite from memory the translation she had read when eleven years old,” given to her by a prince (Heinzen, p. 3)....

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Sara Bard Field. Gelatin silver print, 1927, by Johan Hagemeyer. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Field, Sara Bard (01 September 1882–15 June 1974), suffragist, social reformer, and poet, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of George Bard Field, a purchasing agent for a wholesale food company, and Annie Jenkins. In an interview, Field recalled her father as a staunch Baptist whose “puritanism spread like a cloak over everybody, a dark cloak” (Fry, 1979). While in high school, Field attended classes at the University of Michigan with an older sister. She hoped to enroll after her high school graduation, but her father, afraid that further education would damage her faith, refused to support her through college. Field married Albert Ehrgott, an older Baptist minister and family friend, in 1900; they had two 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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Griffith Browne, Mattie (01 January 1825?–25 May 1906), antislavery writer and women's suffrage activist, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, the daughter of Thomas and Catherine Griffith. Her father was a tavern-keeper and farmer. Various estimates have been made of her correct birth year, but no exact date has been established. Mattie and her older sister, Catherine, were orphaned in childhood, losing first their mother and then their father in 1830....

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Harper, Ida Husted (18 February 1851–14 March 1931), suffragist and journalist, was born in Fairfield, Indiana, the daughter of John Husted, a saddler, and Cassandra Stoddard. When Ida was ten years old the Harpers moved to Muncie, Indiana, seeking a better school system. She graduated from the local high school and then entered Indiana University as a sophomore in 1868. A year later she withdrew from college to become a high school principal in Peru, Indiana....

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Julia Ward Howe Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-53518).

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Howe, Julia Ward (27 May 1819–17 October 1910), poet, author, and woman suffrage leader, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Ward, Jr., a Wall Street stockbroker, and Julia Rush, a poet. Julia was five when her mother died of tuberculosis. She was educated both by tutors at home and at schools for young ladies until the age of sixteen. Her father died in 1839. Visiting Boston in 1841, she met Dr. ...

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Mary Johnston Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112021).

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Johnston, Mary (21 November 1870–09 May 1936), author and suffragette, was born in Buchanan, Botetourt County, Virginia, the daughter of John William Johnston, a major in the Confederate army who, following the Civil War, became president of Georgia Pacific Railway, and Elizabeth Dixon Alexander. Her mother died in 1889, leaving the role of family caretaker to Mary, who acted as surrogate mother to her siblings. Her father’s career necessitated temporary residency, for varying periods of time, in Birmingham, New York City, and Richmond. In 1898 Johnston began her long publishing career, motivated in part by an 1895 reversal of family fortune....

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Laidlaw, Harriet Burton (16 Dec. 1873–25 Jan. 1949), suffragist, essayist, and social reformer, was born Harriet Davenport Wright Burton in Albany, New York, the oldest of three children and only daughter of George Davidson Burton, a bank teller, and Alice Davenport Wright. After her father’s death in ...

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Malkiel, Theresa Serber (01 May 1874–17 November 1949), trade union leader, woman suffragist, publicist, and educator, was born in Bar, Russia. In 1891 she emigrated with her parents to the United States.

Soon after her arrival, Theresa Serber became a pioneer in the Jewish workers’ movement and socialist labor agitation in New York City. Employed in the garment industry, she joined the Russian Workingmen’s Club in 1892. In October 1894 she was among a group of seventy women who founded the Infant Cloak Makers Union (ICMU). Although it was a depression year, she and her associates decided not to accept wage cuts and deteriorating labor conditions any longer. Their action was front-page news. Eventually the ICMU became part of the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance. In 1896, Serber was among the delegates to the first convention of the latter alliance; in 1899, along with many others, she broke with labor leader ...

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Anne Martin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112008).

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Martin, Anne Henrietta (30 September 1875–15 April 1951), suffragist and feminist essayist, was born in Empire City, Nevada, the daughter of William O’Hara Martin, a state senator, merchant, and Reno bank president, and Louise Stadtmuller. She attended Bishop Whitaker’s School for Girls in Reno, then the University of Nevada (1892–1894), where she received a B.A. in history. After a second B.A. in 1896 and an M.A. in history in 1897, both from Stanford University, she founded the history department at the University of Nevada and headed it until 1899. From 1899 to 1901 she continued her studies at Chase School of Art, Columbia University, and the Universities of Leipzig and London; she then lectured in art history at Nevada until 1903....

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Otero-Warren, Nina (23 October 1882–03 January 1965), suffragist, politician, and author, was born María Adelina Isabel Emilia Otero in Los Lunas, New Mexico, the daughter of Eloisa Luna and Manuel B. Otero, ranchers. Nina grew up within one of the oldest and most traditional New Mexican households. Women were expected to learn the domestic arts and eventually marry well in order to run households of their own. Her family, on both her mother’s and her father’s side, was composed of the most prominent citizens, politicians, and ranchers of the territory; they claimed to be descendants of the original Spanish settlers of New Mexico. Nina’s traditional Hispano and Catholic upbringing proscribed a life of domesticity akin to the life her mother and grandmother had known....

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Robins, Elizabeth (06 August 1862–08 May 1952), actress, author, and suffragist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Charles Ephraim Robins, a financier who later became a metallurgist, and Hannah Mariah Crow. After a move to Staten Island, New York, in an unsuccessful attempt to regain his failing business interests, Robins’s father was forced by severe financial difficulties to make a desperate move to Colorado to mine for metals, leaving his family in the care of his wife. In 1872, after the deterioration of her mother’s mental faculties and subsequent removal to an asylum, Elizabeth Robins and her five younger siblings were sent to live with their paternal grandmother, Jane Hussey Robins, in Zanesville, Ohio. This distinguished albeit impoverished side of the family provided Robins with a stable and refined atmosphere, enabling her to receive a superior education at the Putnam Seminary for Young Ladies in Zanesville, from which she graduated in 1880. As she developed strong interests in acting and writing, her performances and essays won praise from fellow students and teachers....

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Robinson, Harriet Jane Hanson (08 February 1825–22 December 1911), textile mill worker, suffragist, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Hanson, a carpenter, and Harriet Browne. When Harriet was six, her father died. Her mother then ran a boarding house in Industrial Lowell, Massachusetts, with the help of her children....

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-29801).

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Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (12 November 1815–26 October 1902), woman suffragist and writer, was born in Johnstown, New York, the daughter of Margaret Livingston and Daniel Cady, a distinguished lawyer, state assemblyman, and congressman. She received her education at the Johnstown Academy and Emma Willard...

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Turner, Eliza L. Sproat (1826–20 June 1903), poet, suffragist, and women's club leader, poet, suffragist, and women’s club leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a Vermont farmer who was later engaged in literary work, and Maria Lutwyche, who had immigrated to Philadelphia from Birmingham, England, around 1818. Very few details are known about her childhood, but her father apparently died when she was still a girl, and Eliza lived with her mother and brother. Though details of her education are unknown, she seems to have been well educated. She taught in the Philadelphia public schools for several years and at Girard College from 1850 to 1852....