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Allender, Nina (25 Dec. 1872–2 Apr. 1957), artist and women’s rights activist  

Allison K. Lange

Allender, Nina (25 Dec. 1872–2 Apr. 1957), artist and women’s rights activist, was born Nina Evans in Auburn, Kansas to David J. Evans and Eva S. (Moore) Evans. Her father was a schoolteacher who later became a superintendent of schools; her mother had started teaching school in Kansas at the age of sixteen. Eva Evans grew dissatisfied with the marriage and took the highly unusual step of leaving her husband and moving with Nina and her younger sister, Kate, to Washington, D.C., where in ...


Barney, Alice Pike (1857-1931), artist and arts patron  

Catherine McNickle Chastain

Barney, Alice Pike (14 January 1857–12 October 1931), artist and arts patron, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of Samuel Napthali Pike, an arts patron and successful businessman, and Ursula Muellion “Ellen” Miller. She grew up and was educated at various schools in Cincinnati and New York City, her family having moved there in 1866. Although Barney courted the famous British explorer ...


Bel Geddes, Barbara (1922-2005), actress, children's book author-illustrator, and painter  

Andrea Weever

Bel Geddes, Barbara (31 October 1922–08 August 2005), actress, children's book author-illustrator, and painter, was born in New York City, the daughter of Norman Bel Geddes, a noted architect and stage designer, and Helen Belle Sneider, an English teacher. Educated at a series of private schools in and around New England, she also spent time in the company of her illustrious father, who was involved in hundreds of theater productions in many capacities. Once after a school play, the drama teacher at the Putney School in Vermont regretfully informed her father that Barbara had “no talent” (...


Bourke-White, Margaret (14 June 1904–27 August 1971), pioneer photojournalist and industrial photographer  

C. Zoe Smith

Bourke-White, Margaret (14 June 1904–27 August 1971), pioneer photojournalist and industrial photographer, was born in New York City, the daughter of Joseph Edward White, an amateur photographer and an engineer and inventor for a printing press manufacturer, and Minnie Bourke, a teacher. Originally using the name Margaret White, she added her mother’s maiden name in 1927....


Carnegie, Hattie (1886-1956), fashion designer and merchandiser  

Richard Martin

Carnegie, Hattie (15 March 1886–22 February 1956), fashion designer and merchandiser, was born Henrietta Könengeiser in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Isaac Könengeiser and Hannah Kraenzer. The family emigrated to the United States, settling on New York’s Lower East Side in 1892. Hattie’s first job was as a messenger at R. H. Macy’s, where she encountered the heady new world of modern retailing and the lifestyle of affluent New York. That experience may have inspired her to assume the name Carnegie; ...


Eames, Ray (15 December 1912–21 August 1988), designer and filmmaker  

Stephen Leet

Eames, Ray (15 December 1912–21 August 1988), designer and filmmaker, was born Ray Kaiser in Sacramento, California, the daughter of Alexander Kaiser, an insurance salesman, and Edna Mary Burr. In 1933, after graduating from the May Bennett School in Millbrook, New York, she began studying painting with Hans Hoffmann in New York City. She was a founding member of American Abstract Artists, which first exhibited as a group in 1937 in New York City....


Exner, Judith Cambell (11 January 1934–24 September 1999), confidante  

Ann T. Keene

Exner, Judith Cambell (11 January 1934–24 September 1999), confidante, was born Judith Eileen Katherine Immoor in New York City to Frederick Immoor, an architect who had emigrated from Germany, and Katherine Shea. When Judith was a year old the family moved to Pacific Palisades, California, where she attended Catholic schools and grew up in comfortable circumstances. The Immoors were friends with many Hollywood celebrities, including ...


Fitzgerald, Zelda (1900-1948), wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer, and artist  

Robert A. Martin

Fitzgerald, Zelda (24 July 1900–10 March 1948), wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer, and artist, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer, and artist, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Anthony D. Sayre, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and Minnie Buckner Machen. Zelda grew up in a privileged and secure home. As the baby of the family, she was indulged and spoiled as a child, and at a young age she began to develop eccentric, self-centered behavior. In 1909 she began studying ballet, which became a lifetime interest. Zelda was known as an excellent athlete, particularly in her habit of diving from high places on a dare. When she was seven, the family moved to 6 Pleasant Avenue in Montgomery, Zelda’s permanent home until her marriage....


Frick, Helen Clay (3 Sept. 1888–9 Nov. 1984), philanthropist and art historian  

Melanie Linn Gutowski

Frick, Helen Clay (3 Sept. 1888–9 Nov. 1984), philanthropist and art historian, was born Helen Childs Frick in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third child of Henry Clay Frick and Adelaide Howard Childs Frick. Her upbringing was one of extraordinary privilege as her father, the controversial industrialist and art collector, showered his family with every luxury. Little of her father’s public reputation as a ruthless businessman and strike breaker would touch her idyllic childhood at Clayton, the family home. Helen was intensely devoted to her father, seen especially in her decision around age ten to change her given middle name to his own....


Gardner, Helen (1878-1946), art historian and art history textbook author  

Beverly Gordon

Gardner, Helen (17 March 1878–04 June 1946), art historian and art history textbook author, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, the daughter of Charles Frederick Gardner, a merchant tailor and Baptist deacon, and Martha W. Cunningham. In 1891 her family moved to Chicago, where her father set up a successful shop downtown. Helen attended Hyde Park High School and later the University of Chicago. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1900 and graduated with a B.A. with honors in Latin and Greek in 1901. After earning the degree Gardner taught at Brooks Classical school in Chicago, where her sister was principal. She herself served as assistant principal from 1905 to 1910. Like most other professional women of her era, she never married....


Gardner, Isabella Stewart (14 April 1840–17 July 1924), patron of the arts and museum founder  

Martin R. Kalfatovic

Gardner, Isabella Stewart (14 April 1840–17 July 1924), patron of the arts and museum founder, was born in New York City, the daughter of David Stewart, an importer and businessman, and Adelia Smith. Educated at a series of private girls’ schools in New York, Gardner (known as “Belle” from early childhood) was sent to a French Protestant school in Paris at age sixteen. Her parents soon joined her in Paris, where the Stewarts befriended the family of John L. Gardner, a Boston businessman involved in shipping. Belle Stewart and Julia Gardner, a girl of her own age, quickly became close friends....


Greene, Belle da Costa (1879-1950), library director, bibliographer, and art connoisseur  

Constance Koppelman

Greene, Belle da Costa (26 November 1879–10 May 1950), library director, bibliographer, and art connoisseur, was born Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of Richard Greener, a lawyer and Republican party activist, and Genevieve Ida Fleet Greener. Her place of birth was probably Washington, D.C., where her father held a variety of jobs. But specifics concerning Greene's childhood and education are scarce because she preferred to keep them a mystery. Apparently, she attended Teachers College in New York City, where the family had relocated after Richard Greener was rewarded with a patronage job for his efforts on behalf of the Republican party. Around 1897, Belle Marion Greener's parents separated, the children staying with their mother, who within a few years changed the surname to Greene and some years thereafter altered her maiden name from Fleet to Van Vliet. During this time the Greenes fully “passed” in the white world, and Belle da Costa Greene (who claimed for herself nonexistent Portuguese forebears) never acknowledged her African lineage....


Hayden, Sophia Gregoria (1868-1953), architect  

Lisa B. Reitzes

Hayden, Sophia Gregoria (17 October 1868–03 February 1953), architect, was born in Santiago, Chile, the daughter of George Henry Hayden, a dentist; her mother (full name unknown) was of Spanish descent. In 1874 Sophia Hayden went to live with her grandparents in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston. After graduating from West Roxbury High School in 1886, she immediately entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became the first woman to enroll in the architecture program directed by Eugène Létang, who had been trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This program concentrated on the planning and rendering of monumental buildings but also offered courses in architectural history and structural engineering. Hayden’s thesis project, which employed a neoclassical style, was titled “A Design for a Museum of Fine Arts.” She received the bachelor of architecture degree with honors in 1890, becoming the first woman to complete Létang’s four-year architecture course. After graduation, she taught mechanical drawing at the Elliot School in Jamaica Plain but declared her intention to practice architecture....


Heap, Jane (1883-1964), artist and editor  

Holly Baggett

Heap, Jane (01 November 1883–16 June 1964), artist and editor, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of George Heap, an engineer, and Emma (maiden name unknown). Interested in art from an early age, Heap attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1901 until 1905 and later studied mural design in Germany. By the century’s second decade Chicago was in the midst of a “Renaissance” in art and literature. Writers and artists influenced by Nietzsche, Shaw, Picasso, and Gauguin attacked the straitlaced conservatism of the Victorian genteel tradition. Young midwesterners with artistic aspirations traveled to Chicago where they embraced and expressed an American modernism that owed much to European philosophies. Heap was among them....


Hoffman, Malvina (1885-1966), sculptor  

Joan Marter

Hoffman, Malvina (15 June 1885–10 July 1966), sculptor, was born Malvina Cornell Hoffman in New York City, the daughter of Richard Hoffman, a pianist, and Fidelia Marshall Lamson. Her early years were spent in a handsome brownstone on West 43d Street in New York City. Her father, born in England, was an internationally recognized pianist who first came to the United States as an accompanist to Jenny Lind, the Swedish soprano. Richard Hoffman’s home was filled with works of art and artists, inspiring his daughter’s interest in art....


Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue (1830-1908), sculptor  

Barbara Groseclose

Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue (09 October 1830–21 February 1908), sculptor, was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, the daughter of Hiram Hosmer, a physician, and Sarah Grant. Sarah Hosmer died when her daughter was four years old. Hiram Hosmer raised Harriet, providing her with physical and intellectual training well beyond the limits imposed on most middle-class girls of the time. Hosmer grew up renowned in her community for fearlessness and unconventional behavior, especially in regard to outdoor sports involving riding and shooting....


Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt (1876-1973), sculptor and philanthropist  

David B. Dearinger

Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt (10 March 1876–04 October 1973), sculptor and philanthropist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Alpheus Hyatt II, a professor of zoology and paleontology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Boston University, and Audella Beebe, an amateur landscape painter. She attended private schools in Cambridge, but at about age seventeen, she began to show an interest in sculpture. This was encouraged by her family, especially by her older sister, Harriet R. Hyatt, who began sculpting in the 1880s. Anna may have accompanied her sister to the Cowles School in Boston to study drawing with ...


Käsebier, Gertrude Stanton (1852-1934), photographer  

Patricia A. Fairchild

Käsebier, Gertrude Stanton (18 May 1852–13 October 1934), photographer, was born in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, the daughter of John W. Stanton, a mining entrepreneur, and Gertrude Muncy Shaw, a boardinghouse operator. As a child of eight, Gertrude crossed the plains by wagon with her mother, brother, aunt, and uncle, to Colorado Territory to join her father, who had preceded them in 1859 to search for gold and set up a processing mill in Eureka Gulch, near Central City. Then, around 1864 the Stanton family moved east to Brooklyn, New York. During 1868–1870 Gertrude stayed with her grandmother in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, while attending the Moravian Seminary for Women. In 1874 she married Eduard Käsebier, an immigrant shellac importer from Wiesbaden, Germany, whom she had met at her mother’s boardinghouse in Brooklyn. The couple had three children....


Keyser, Louisa (1850-1925), Washoe basket weaver  

Marvin Cohodas

Keyser, Louisa (1850–06 December 1925), Washoe basket weaver, also known as Dat So La Lee, was likely born in Carson Valley (Nevada) or Antelope Valley (California and Nevada), the daughter of Da da uongala and a woman whose name she did not remember, who perhaps died in childbirth. Conflicting reports suggest that Keyser married three times, but only her marriage to Charlie Keyser is well documented. Louisa Keyser had no surviving children, so she is considered an ancestor to the descendants of Charlie Keyser's two previous wives, Delia Aleck and Maggie Miles Merrill. By the late 1890s Keyser was working in Carson City, Nevada, as a laundress and housekeeper for Abram “Abe” and Amy Cohn. Abe Cohn owned the Emporium Company clothing store, and Amy Cohn was transforming a portion of that store into a curio shop for Native American basket weaving. Recognizing Keyser's unusual talent for basket weaving, the Cohns soon relieved her of household chores, hiring other Washoe women in her place, and patronized Keyser as a full-time artist specialist. In return for her products, they provided Keyser and her husband with food, lodging, and medical attention until their deaths....


Le Clercq, Tanaquil (02 October 1929–31 December 2000), ballerina, teacher, author, and photographer  

Mindy Aloff

Le Clercq, Tanaquil (02 October 1929–31 December 2000), ballerina, teacher, author, and photographer, was born in Paris, France, the daughter of Edith Whittemore Le Clercq, a socialite from St. Louis, Missouri, and the American writer Jacques Georges Clemenceau Le Clercq, a poet and a prolific translator, principally from the French. Le Clercq's father named her after “Paul Tanaquil”—his own occasional pseudonym, which referred to the Etruscan queen and prophetess of ancient Rome. From Le Clercq's childhood on, however, she was known as “Tanny” to family and friends....