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Ammons, A. R. (18 Feb. 1926–2 Feb. 2001), poet, was born on his family’s tobacco farm near Whiteville, North Carolina, the son of Willie M. and Lucy Delia McKee Ammons. The main family book was the Bible. Archie Randolph Ammons spent his formative childhood years working on the farm and as a result always felt close to nature and the vicissitudes of weather. After graduating from Whiteville High School in ...

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Appleton, Thomas (2 Apr.1763–28 Apr.1840), art dealer and diplomat, was born in Boston, one of seven children of Nathaniel Appleton, Jr., a merchant and candle manufacturer, and his second wife, Rachel Henderson. The sixth generation of a prominent Massachusetts family that traced its lineage to Samuel Appleton, who landed with his family in Ipswich, Essex County in ...

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Ball, Bob (28 Mar. 1914–29 Jan. 2008), public official and leading expert on the U.S. Social Security program, was born Robert Myers Ball in New York City. Ball’s father, Archey Decatur Ball, was a Methodist minister of the social gospel tradition, and his mother, Laura Elizabeth Crump, taught history in the public schools. Both parents were Phi Beta Kappa graduates of Lawrence College. Bob Ball attended high school in East Orange, New Jersey, graduating in ...

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Barker, Roger G. (31 Mar. 1903–10 Sept. 1990), child psychologist and pioneer in the naturalistic study of human development in community settings, was born in Macksburg, Iowa, the second of five children of Guy and Cora Barker, whose homesteader families arrived in the Midwest in the mid-nineteenth century. Guy Barker held a series of jobs: he was a farmer; served as the manager of a town’s general store; and then worked as a mid-level executive for a small insurance company in Des Moines, before returning to farming in eastern Alberta, Canada. Shortly after his Roger Barker’s birth, his family moved to the small town of Plover, Iowa, where he spent the first seven years of his life. Children growing up in small towns would later become his professional focus....

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Barrow, Blanche (1 Jan. 1911–24 Dec. 1988), outlaw and associate of Bonnie and Clyde, was born Bennie Iva Blanche Caldwell in Garvin, Oklahoma. She was the only child of Matthew Fountain Caldwell, a farmer, and Lillian Bell Pond.

Blanche’s parents divorced when she was young, and her primary caregiver was her father. But it was her mother who chose her first husband, John Callaway. Blanche wed John, who was closer to her mother’s age than her own, in September ...

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Baumgartner, Leona (18 Aug. 1902–15 Jan. 1991), public health official, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of Olga Leisy and William J. Baumgartner. Her family was of Swiss Mennonite descent. She spent her childhood in Lawrence, Kansas, where her father was a professor of zoology at the University of Kansas. Growing up, Leona was immersed in science and accompanied her father on summer research trips. So it was not unexpected that after graduating from Lawrence High School in ...

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Bee, Frederick Alonzo (9 Sept. 1825–26 May 1892), telegraph and railroad entrepreneur and vice-consul of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, was born in Clinton, New York, the son of John Bee and Mary Wilson. The couple emigrated from Northumberland, England to Clinton, New York in ...

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Belluschi, Pietro (18 Aug. 1899–14 Feb. 1994), architect, was born in Ancona, Italy. The only son and male heir of a devoutly Catholic, aspiring middle-class family, in 1905 he moved to Rome where his father, originally working in land assessment and acquisition in the railway industry, embarked on a successful career in construction and development. Believing he would be drafted, in ...

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Bork, Robert H. (1 Mar. 1927–19 Dec. 2012), conservative legal theorist, Solicitor General of the United States, federal appellate judge, and writer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Harry Philip Bork, a purchasing agent for a steel company, and Elizabeth Kunkle, an English teacher. He graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut in ...

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Boyle, Sarah Patton (9 May 1906–20 Feb. 1994), civil rights activist and writer, was born Sarah Lindsay Patton in Lindsay, Virginia, to Janie Stringfellow Patton and Robert Williams Patton, both descendants of the Virginian slaveholding elite. Her father, an Episcopal minister, was a racial moderate by the standards of his time, but the young Patty, as Sarah was always referred to, was more influenced by her mother’s segregationist views. Patty, who had undiagnosed dyslexia, was educated at home before studying painting at the Corcoran School of Art, in Washington, D.C., from ...

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Bracken, Peg (25 Feb. 1918–20 Oct. 2007), humorist, book author, and food writer, was born Ruth Eleanor Bracken in Filer, Idaho to John Lewis and Ruth McQuesten Bracken. She had one brother, Jack. She grew up in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from Antioch College in ...

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Bubley, Esther Fern (16 Feb. 1921–16 Mar. 1998), photojournalist, was born in Phillips, Wisconsin, the fourth of five children of Russian Jewish immigrants Louis Bubley and Ida Gordon. By the late 1930s the Bubleys had achieved financial stability, with Louis operating an auto parts business and Ida a general store. Inspired by the photographs she saw in ...

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Bunning, Jim (23 Oct. 1931–26 May 2017), baseball player, congressman, and U.S. Senator, was born James Paul David Bunning in Covington, Kentucky, the middle son of Louis Bunning, a ladder-manufacturing factory owner, and Gladys Best Bunning. The family stressed their Catholic faith and the importance of education. After a multisport career at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Jim graduated in ...

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Burdick, Eugene Leonard (12 Dec. 1918–26 July 1965), novelist and political scientist, was born in Sheldon, Iowa, to John J. Burdick, an Irish immigrant house painter, and Marie Ellerbroek Burdick. His father died when he was four, and two years later his mother, of Dutch descent, married Fritz Gaillard, an émigré cellist from the Netherlands. The family moved to Los Angeles, where Gaillard played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From childhood onward, Burdick excelled in both academics and sports. After attending classes at Santa Monica and Santa Barbara junior colleges, he enrolled as a scholarship student at Stanford University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in psychology in ...

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Cabrera, Lydia (20 May 1900–19 Sept. 1991), Cuban writer and anthropologist, was born in Havana, Cuba. (Even though 1899 is sometimes listed as her birth year, Cabrera always gave the date listed here). Her parents were Raimundo Cabrera Bosch, a lawyer, jurist, writer, and politician, and Elisa Marcaida Casanova. Lydia Cabrera was the youngest of eight siblings. Her interaction with her family’s Afro-Cuban servants (especially her nanny and her seamstress) and the stories she heard as a child are often cited as the foundation for her future career as a writer and transcriber of Afro-Cuban folk tales....

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Caesar, Sid (8 Sept. 1922–12 Feb. 2014), television comedy star, was born Isaac Sidney Caesar in Yonkers, New York, the youngest of three surviving sons of Max Ziser, a Jew who emigrated from Austria, and his Russian-born wife, Ida Raphael Ziser. As a young boy Sid amused factory workers in his father’s greasy spoon, the St. Claire Buffet and Luncheonette, with Italian, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian double talk. At eleven, Sid learned to play the saxophone, and he made six dollars a week playing in Mike Cifficello’s Swingtime Six while a student at Yonkers High School....

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Carpenter, Scott (1 May 1925–10 Oct. 2013), astronaut, was born Malcolm Scott Carpenter in Boulder, Colorado, to Marion Scott Carpenter, a post-doctoral student in chemistry, and Florence Kelso (Noxon) Carpenter.

When his mother became ill with tuberculosis and his father abandoned them, “Buddy” was raised in Boulder by his grandparents, Victor Irwin Noxon, Progressive publisher of the ...

Image

Scott Carpenter, 1962, unknown photographer

courtesy of NASA

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Carr, Marjorie H. (26 Mar. 1915–10 Oct. 1997), environmental activist and zoologist, was born Marjorie Harris in Boston, Massachusetts, to Charles Ellsworth Harris, a teacher, and Clara Louise Haynes. The couple wintered in Florida, eventually relocating in 1918 to a ten-acre orange grove south of Bonita Springs. Marjorie reveled in the natural beauty of rural southwest Florida, enjoying the nearby rivers and beaches while riding her beloved pony. In ...

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Charisse, Cyd (8 Mar. 1921–17 June 2008), dancer and actress, was born Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, to jeweler Ernest E. Finklea and Lela (Norwood) Finklea. Tula became “Sid” when her older brother E. E. couldn’t say “Sis” (and later the more exotic “Cyd” when her Hollywood career took off). She considered herself skinny and homely when she turned to ballet at six to strengthen her right side after a bout with polio, but she quickly became enthralled by the power of dance. At fourteen, her parents enrolled her in the Los Angeles ballet school of ...