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Bowen, Louise deKoven (26 February 1859–09 November 1953), philanthropist, social reformer, and suffragist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of John deKoven, a successful banker, and Helen Hadduck. Louise grew up with all the pleasures and privileges of wealth and power. She graduated from the prestigious Dearborn Seminary at the age of sixteen and soon thereafter began teaching Sunday school and dabbling in charity work. She established the Huron Street Club, one of the first boys’ clubhouses in Chicago; helped to create a kitchen garden association for girls; and regularly visited the hundred families of the boys in her church class, offering help when needed. In 1886 she married Joseph Tilton Bowen, a Chicago businessman. She gave up her Sunday school class and other church-related social work so that she would have time to care for their four children. Unwilling, however, to give up all philanthropic activities when her children were very young, Bowen joined the board of managers of the Maurice Porter Memorial Hospital. She later held board positions with other hospitals and helped establish the Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago....

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May, Abigail Williams (21 April 1829–30 November 1888), reformer and philanthropist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel May, a deacon, hardware merchant, and woolen manufacturer, and Mary Goddard. Both parents were abolitionists. May attended various Boston schools, and in her late teens she and seven other girls started a reading program that included Plato, Spenser, and Dante. In 1851 May, who thought it was a woman’s responsibility to prepare for some type of work as a provision against hardship, studied at Boston’s newly opened School of Design where she later became a member of the governing committee. May never married, but in 1853, when her youngest brother Frederic’s wife died at the birth of their first child, May assumed responsibility for her niece’s health and education....

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Narcissa Vanderlip, between 1903 and 1920, by Bain News Service

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 [LC-B2- 5136-8]

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Vanderlip, Narcissa Cox (9 Feb. 1880–1 Mar. 1966), suffragist, social reformer, and philanthropist, was born Narcissa Cox in Quincy, Illinois, the youngest of six children of Charles Epperson Cox, an Illinois manufacturer and political activist, and Narcissa Woods Cox, a former school teacher. (Some sources say she was born in ...