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Arthur, Timothy Shay (1809-1885), editor, temperance crusader, and novelist  

Claudia Durst Johnson

Arthur, Timothy Shay (06 June 1809–06 March 1885), editor, temperance crusader, and novelist, was born in Orange County, New York, the son of William Arthur and Anna Shay, occupations unknown. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Timothy Shay, an officer in the revolutionary war. By his mid-twenties, Arthur had yet to identify a profession or receive an education. In the 1830s, however, he began an intense program of self-education as well as a writing career as a journalist in Baltimore, where he quickly became a well-known and articulate champion of numerous social causes including temperance, Swedenborgianism, feminism, and socialism. In 1836 he married Eliza Alden; they had seven children....


Atwater, Helen Woodard (1876-1947), home economist  

Janet Carlisle Bogdan

Atwater, Helen Woodard (29 May 1876–26 June 1947), home economist, was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, the daughter of Wilbur Olin Atwater, an agricultural and food chemistry pioneer and expert in physiology and scientific administration, and Marcia Woodard. She grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, where her father was a professor at Wesleyan University. Beginning when she was six, her family lived in Europe several times. Her father had done postdoctoral work in chemistry at Leipzig and Berlin, and he returned in the 1880s to carry on research in nutrition and calorimetry (the energy-producing values of foods). While in Europe, Atwater attended school, becoming fluent in both German and French; she entered Smith College in 1894 and was keenly interested in studies and experiments in human nutrition. She graduated from Smith in 1897 with a bachelor’s degree in literature....


Austin, Harriet N. (1825-1891), hydropathic physician and health and dress reformer  

Jane B. Donegan

Austin, Harriet N. (1825–1891), hydropathic physician and health and dress reformer, was born in Connecticut but raised in Moravia, New York. Little is known about her parentage or early life. At age twenty-six she enrolled in the first class of the coeducational American Hydropathic Institute operated by ...


Benjamin, Harry (1885-1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher  

Keay Davidson

Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...


Cover Benjamin, Harry (1885-1986)
Harry Benjamin. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02717).


Bloomer, Amelia Jenks (27 May 1818–30 December 1894), temperance and women's rights reformer and editor  

Kathleen Feeney

Bloomer, Amelia Jenks (27 May 1818–30 December 1894), temperance and women's rights reformer and editor, temperance and women’s rights reformer and editor, was born in Homer, New York, the daughter of Ananias Jenks, a clothier, and Lucy Webb. She received a basic education in Homer’s district schools and by the age of seventeen was teaching in Clyde, New York. After a year of teaching, Bloomer became a governess and tutor for a Waterloo, New York, family....


Bolton, Sarah Knowles (1841-1916), writer and reform activist  

Sherrie A. Inness

Bolton, Sarah Knowles (15 September 1841–20 February 1916), writer and reform activist, was born in Farmington, Connecticut, the daughter of John Segar Knowles and Elizabeth Miller, farmers. Bolton was a descendant, on her father’s side, of Joseph Jenckes, a governor of Rhode Island (1772–1732), and on her mother’s side, a descendant of Nathaniel Stanley, a treasurer of the Connecticut Colony....


Boole, Ella Alexander (1858-1952), temperance reformer  

Sheryl A. Kujawa

Boole, Ella Alexander (26 July 1858–13 March 1952), temperance reformer, was born in Van Wert, Ohio, the daughter of Isaac Newton Alexander, a lawyer, and Rebecca Alban. Both parents were born in Ohio and were committed Presbyterians and social reformers. Ella attended the Van Wert public schools and the College of Wooster, where she received A.B. and A.M. degrees in classics. She graduated second in her class and taught in the local high school for five years after college. On 3 July 1883 she married William H. Boole, a twice-widowed, prominent Methodist minister and cofounder of the Prohibition party. After her marriage she joined the Methodist church and moved to her husband’s pastorate in Brooklyn, New York. There she had one daughter and raised two stepdaughters from her husband’s previous marriages....


Cover Boole, Ella Alexander (1858-1952)

Boole, Ella Alexander (1858-1952)  


Ella A. Boole. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107372).


Brooks, Walter Henderson (1851-1945), clergyman, temperance leader, and poet  

Adam Biggs

Brooks, Walter Henderson (30 August 1851–06 July 1945), clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks’s father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia’s wealthiest citizens, including his wife’s owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife’s freedom in 1862 for $800. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working in hotels, boardinghouses, and restaurants. In his youth he acquired the doctrines that served as the foundation for his life’s work. He learned temperance from his pastor, the Reverend ...


Burger, Nelle Gilham Lemon (1869-1957), temperance leader  

Mary K. Dains

Burger, Nelle Gilham Lemon (27 July 1869–24 December 1957), temperance leader, was born Nelle Gilham Lemons in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Charles J. Lemons and Irene C. Jacobs. Their occupations are unknown. When Nelle was ten the family moved to Roodhouse, Illinois, where she began attending public schools and graduated from high school with honors. She then began teaching in area public schools. Two years later, on 1 September 1886, she married Charles A. Burger, an engineer....


Calderone, Mary S. (1904-1998), physician and educator  

Ann T. Keene

Calderone, Mary S. (01 July 1904–24 October 1998), physician and educator, was born Mary Steichen in New York City to Edward Steichen, a photographer, and Clara Smith Steichen. While Mary and her younger sister were growing up, living in both New York and France, their father emerged as one of the most acclaimed photographers in the world, and Mary Steichen later said that her father's ability to portray “human life and the human condition” made a deep impression on her at an early age. Her parents separated when she was ten, and Mary went to live with her father; she remained alienated from her mother for many decades, not restoring their relationship until Mary herself was in her sixties....


Cover Calderone, Mary S. (1904-1998)

Calderone, Mary S. (1904-1998)  


Mary S. Calderone Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Campbell, Helen Stuart (1839-1918), author and home economist  

Susan Henry

Campbell, Helen Stuart (04 July 1839–22 July 1918), author and home economist, was born in Lockport, New York, to Jane E. Campbell and Homer H. Stuart, a banker and lawyer. She attended New York public schools and two private schools, the Gammell School in Warren, Rhode Island, and Mrs. Cook’s Seminary in Bloomfield, New Jersey....


Campbell, Loraine Leeson (1905-1982), birth control movement leader  

James W. Reed

Campbell, Loraine Leeson (12 May 1905–10 February 1982), birth control movement leader, was born in Newton Center, Massachusetts, the daughter of Robert Ainsworth Leeson, a corporate executive, and Mildred Dix. She enjoyed a privileged childhood as a member of a socially prominent Boston family, excelled in academics and sports at the Winsor School, where she was student body president, and spent a year “coming out” as a debutante before entering Vassar College in 1924. She majored in psychology, shocked her parents by joining pickets at strikes, and was elected Phi Beta Kappa and student body president. She turned down job offers to conduct child development research after her mother died in the spring of her senior year, and her father urged her to return to Boston to help rear three younger siblings....


Cannon, Cornelia James (1876-1969), novelist and birth control activist  

Maria Diedrich

Cannon, Cornelia James (17 November 1876–01 December 1969), novelist and birth control activist, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Henry Clay James and Frances Haynes. While her father practiced law and speculated in land, her mother helped out the family fortunes by painting; some of her watercolors are now at the Minnesota Historical Society. Cannon grew up in St. Paul and Newport. At Radcliffe College Cannon studied philosophy with ...


Cannon, James, Jr. (1864-1944), southern Methodist bishop and temperance crusader  

Michael R. McCoy

Cannon, James, Jr. (13 November 1864–06 September 1944), southern Methodist bishop and temperance crusader, was born in Salisbury, Maryland, the son of James Cannon and Lydia Robertson Primrose, merchants. The family was prosperous and prominent in Delaware, where James’s uncle, William Cannon, was governor from 1863 to 1865. Possessed of strong southern sympathies, the Cannons moved to Salisbury, Maryland, at the time of the Civil War, where the family business continued to thrive. Longtime Methodists, the family abandoned the Methodist Episcopal church and helped to found the local congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. They were active in this congregation, in the Democratic party, and in the emerging local temperance movement....


Carse, Matilda Bradley (1835-1917), temperance worker, editor, and entrepreneur  

Ruth Bordin

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....


Chapin, Sarah Flournoy Moore (14 March 1830?–19 April 1896), reformer and temperance worker  

Ruth Bordin

Chapin, Sarah Flournoy Moore (14 March 1830?–19 April 1896), reformer and temperance worker, known by the nickname Sallie, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of George Washington Moore, a wealthy Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Martha (Vigneron) Simons, who was of Rhode Island Huguenot ancestry. Sallie spent her childhood in Cokesbury, South Carolina, where she was educated at the Cokesbury Academy. In 1847 she married Leonard Chapin, a prominent Charleston businessman and philanthropist who was instrumental in founding the Charleston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). They had one adopted child....


Cheever, George Barrell (1807-1890), clergyman and reformer  

John Stauffer

Cheever, George Barrell (17 April 1807–01 October 1890), clergyman and reformer, was born in Hallowell, Maine, the son of Nathaniel Cheever II, a printer and bookseller, and Charlotte Barrell. He was one of five children in a prosperous family. His father died when he was twelve, and he became extremely close to his mother, whose ardent Congregational faith significantly shaped his career. He entered Bowdoin College in 1821 and was a classmate of ...