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Evans, George Henry (25 March 1805–02 February 1856), labor editor and land reformer, was born in Bromyard, in Herefordshire, England, the son of George Evans, who served in the British army during the Napoleonic Wars, and Sarah White, who came from the modestly landed gentry. When she died in 1815 George Henry remained with his father to receive a “scholastic” education while his younger brother Frederick William was sent to live with relatives. In 1820 Evans immigrated to the United States with his father and brother; he was apprenticed to a printer in Ithaca, New York, where the family settled. The Evans brothers studied the writings of ...

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Fixx, James Fuller (23 April 1932–20 July 1984), writer, was born in New York City, the son of Calvin Henry Fixx, a journalist, and Marlys Fuller. After completing his primary education, he attended the Garden Country Day School in Jackson Heights, New York, from 1947 to 1948, and he graduated from the Trinity School in New York City in 1951. Fixx attended Indiana University from 1951 to 1952 and then served as a clerk in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954 in Pusan, South Korea. In 1955 he entered Oberlin College and majored in English literature, with the goal of becoming either a journalist or a teacher. While studying at Oberlin, Fixx worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Oberlin ...

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Jacobs, Jane (04 May 1916–25 April 2006), writer, community organizer, and urban advocate, was born Jane Butzner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Dr. John Butzner, a physician, and Bess Robison, a nurse. She was raised with three siblings in nearby Dunmore, a middle-class suburb. Dr. Butzner, among the first in the city to own an automobile, took his daughter along on rides downtown, where she was captivated by the spectacle of urban life. As a teenager, she also spent summer months working at her aunt’s Presbyterian charity for impoverished Appalachian communities in rural North Carolina. A key influence was her great-aunt Hannah Breece, who, beginning at age forty-five in 1904, spent fourteen years traversing the Alaska territory as a schoolteacher for indigenous pupils. Likewise Jane Jacobs would assume the posture of urban political activist and critic only after age forty, and at seventy-six, she would retrace the trans-Alaskan journey of her familial role model and edit Breece’s memoir, published in 1996....

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McCann, Alfred Watterson (09 January 1879–19 January 1931), journalist, radio commentator, and crusader for pure food, was born in Pittsburgh, the son of Michael McCann, a printer and engraver, and Maria (maiden name unknown). He attended the University of Chicago and was graduated in 1899 from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University, where he accepted a faculty position teaching English and mathematics after graduation. In 1905 he married Mary Carmody of Pittsburgh; they had five children....

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Meyer, Henry Coddington (14 April 1844–27 March 1935), manufacturer, editor, and public health reformer, was born in Hamburg, Germany, the son of American citizens Meyer Henry Meyer, a merchant, and Anne Maria Price. He attended private schools in Montclair, New Jersey, and Tarrytown and Yonkers, New York. Meyer’s parents refused to allow the seventeen-year-old Henry to enlist at the start of the Civil War, but in the summer of 1862 Meyer, then age eighteen, joined the Second New York Cavalry (the Harris Light) as a private. In 1863, at Brandy Station, he received a saber wound but returned to duty. In February 1864 he joined the Twenty-fourth New York Cavalry as a second lieutenant. He fought through Pope’s Campaign and in the battles at the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, Virginia. At Petersburg, on 17 June 1864, following an assault on Confederate forces, Meyer, by then a captain, received his second wound. He had returned to the battlefield to assist a fellow officer who had been wounded, but Meyer, suffering from malaria, was unable to carry the officer to safety. After turning the officer over and clearing his mouth to let him breathe, Meyer headed back to find help, only to be shot in the back. After spending eleven months in the hospital recovering from his wounds, Meyer received a brevet Major commission and was discharged for his disability. For his “distinguished gallantry in action,” which saved his fellow officer’s life, Meyer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1899....

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Rodale, J. I. (16 August 1898–07 June 1971), health food publisher, was born Jerome Irving Cohen in New York City, the son of Michael Cohen, a capmaker and grocer, and Bertha Rouda. Both parents were Polish immigrants. Rodale studied at New York and Columbia Universities but did not earn any degrees. At age twenty he became an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, and at twenty-one he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked in a private accounting firm for three years. He wanted, however, for some vague reason that he never explained, to be a farmer and publisher. In 1920 he traveled to Kentucky on business and became enchanted with the Bluegrass State. “Being among farmers and in farm country I was more and more imbued with the ambition of some day having my own farm and riding to town with my children on a buck-board drawn by two trusty horses.”...