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Aaliyah (16 Jan. 1979–25 Aug. 2001), singer, actress, and model, was born Aaliyah Dana Haughton to Michael Haughton, a warehouse worker, and Diane Haughton in Brooklyn, New York. For this second child, the Haughtons chose an Arabic first name that meant “the highest, most exalted one, the best.”...

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Allen, Paul Gardner (21 Jan. 1953–15 Oct. 2018), software pioneer, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born in Seattle, Washington to Kenneth Allen, a University of Washington librarian, and Faye Gardner Allen, a teacher. He attended Lakeside School in Seattle. In ninth grade he met seventh-grader Bill Gates, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for computer programming. During their school years they worked on computers after hours at their school, at a downtown computer center, and at the University of Washington computer science lab. They formed a company that they called Traf-O-Data to count traffic volumes, a very early entry in the “smart city” movement. In the summer of ...

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Bacon, Edmund Norwood (2 May 1910–14 Oct. 2005), architect and urban planner, was born to Ellis Bacon and Helen Comly Bacon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the family lived modestly as observant members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. Bacon’s father acted as the director of the medical department for the publishing house of J.B. Lippincott, while his mother served as a volunteer with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Bacon’s parents sent him to Quaker schools for his primary and secondary education, but he graduated in ...

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Barron, Julia Tarrant (18 Dec. 1805–5 Feb. 1890), philanthropist and college founder, was born Julia Tarrant in Abbeville, South Carolina, to Thomas Tarrant and Malinda Nash Tarrant. She had several siblings. According to her grandfather’s January 1805 will, Julia’s father was supposed to receive a two-hundred-acre plantation in the area near Abbeville upon her grandfather’s death. However, the family did not stay in Abbeville long after Julia’s birth. As a young child, Julia moved with her family to the Alabama Territory as part of a migration to claim and settle the area....

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Berra, Yogi (12 May 1925–22 Sept. 2015), baseball player and manager, was born Lawrence Peter Berra, the fifth of five children of Italian Catholic immigrants Pietro Berra, a kiln worker, and Paulina Berra, in St. Louis, Missouri. Lawdie (his mother’s accented version of Larry) was a gifted athlete and organizer of neighborhood sporting activities. Across the street from the Berra home lived the Garagiola family, whose son Joe, a few months younger than Lawdie, became a life-long friend and fellow major league ballplayer. Berra picked up the nickname Yogi after a friend likened his walk to that of a Hindu snake charmer in a movie they saw....

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Bush, Barbara Pierce (8 June 1925–17 Apr. 2018), first lady, was born Barbara Pierce in New York City, the third of four children, to Marvin Pierce, a magazine executive, and Pauline Robinson, a homemaker. Raised in upper-middle-class Rye, New York, Barbara described her childhood as carefree, despite a fraught relationship with her mother. Adored by her father, young Barbara had typical mother-daughter tiffs over etiquette rules, food choices, weight gain, and dance lessons....

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George H.W. Bush, 1989, by Michael Geissinger

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

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Bush, George H. W. (12 June 1924–30 Nov. 2018), forty-first president of the United States, was born George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts, to Prescott S. Bush, an investment banker, and Dorothy Walker Bush, a homemaker. The family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut in ...

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Cain, Mary Dawson (17 Aug. 1904–6 May 1984), newspaper publisher and conservative political activist, was born Mary Dawson aboard the Illinois Central Gulf train near Burke, Louisiana. Her father, Charles Goodrich Dawson, worked as railroad foreman for forty-eight years, and her mother, Tululah Bryant De La Garza Dawson, was the daughter of a Mexican immigrant teamster in Louisiana. The family, which included five brothers and one sister, settled in Pike County, Mississippi, in ...

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Canby, Vincent (27 July 1924–15 Oct. 2000), film and theater critic, was one of several children born in Chicago to Lloyd Canby, a stockbroker and grandson of the president of the Chicago Board of Trade, and Katharine Anne Vincent Canby. Young Vincent spent his early years in the well-to-do North Shore suburb of Lake Forest, but by the 1930s the family’s fortunes had declined, a consequence of financial losses brought about by the Great Depression. The elder Canby lost his job, and following the apparent suicide of Vincent’s elder brother in ...

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Cook, Barbara (25 Oct. 1927–8 Aug. 2017), singer, was the elder of two daughters born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Charles Bunyan Cook, a traveling hat salesman, and Nell Harwell Cook, a telephone operator. When Barbara was three, her sister died, and three years later her parents separated. Raised in poverty by her mother during the Great Depression, Barbara found diversion and solace in music. From an early age she sang for her own pleasure, inspired by radio broadcasts of pop ballads as well as the Metropolitan Opera, and movie musicals with ...

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Day, Doris (3 Apr. 1922–13 May 2019), singer, actress, and animal rights activist was born Doris Mary Anne von Kappelhoff to Alma Sophia (Welz) von Kappelhoff, a stage mother, and Joseph von Kappelhoff, a music teacher and remote father, in Cincinnati.

In 1935...

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De Havilland, Olivia (1 July 1916–26 July 2020), actress, was born Olivia Mary de Havilland in Tokyo to Cambridge University–educated Walter Augustus de Havilland, who headed a patent law firm, and Berkshire, England–born choral singer Lilian Augusta (Ruse) de Havilland. Her mother named her Olivia after the heroine in Shakespeare’s ...

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Olivia de Havilland, 1985, by Bernard Gotfryd

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

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Douglas, Kirk (9 Dec. 1916–5 Feb. 2020), actor, producer, and director, was born Issur Danielovitch to Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch and his wife, Bryna “Bertha” (Sanglel) Danielovitch, Russian Jewish immigrants who had settled in Amsterdam, New York in 1910. They had adopted the Americanized surname “Demsky” by the time Issur went to school. Issur (or Izzy) Demsky grew up with six sisters in abject poverty, which fired his ambition. His hardscrabble youth gave him the street savvy to overcome hardship and achieve great distinction; it also taught him compassion to aid the less fortunate....

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Gasink, Warren Alfred (1 Sept. 1927–11 Dec. 1997), professor of speech communication, was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of George Alfred and Maude Leggett Gasink. His father, a painter by trade, was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. At the age of four Gasink began training to play the viola, though music never became his vocation. He performed at many local events, and at the age of nine he won first place in a children’s music contest in Sioux City. Gasink enrolled in a speech course during his sophomore year of high school, where he was ridiculed by his peers due to his slender, scrawny appearance. While Gasink was very hurt by how he was treated, he realized that he could learn a great deal through studying speech....

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Billy Graham, 1966, by Warren K. Leffler

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

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Graham, Jr., William Franklin “Billy” (07 Nov. 1918–21 Feb. 2018), protestant evangelist, was born on a farm near Charlotte, North Carolina, the eldest of four children of William Franklin Graham and Morrow Coffey Graham.

Graham grew up in comfortable circumstances. His father, a successful dairyman near Charlotte, enjoyed comparative prosperity, while his mother, a musician, taught piano at home. As an adult Graham remembered how much he had disliked farm life. He also remembered how much he had liked girls, baseball, and fast cars. School did not play much of a role, and neither did religion....

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Grove, Andrew Steven (2 Sept. 1936–21 Mar, 2016), business leader, technologist, and author, was born András István Gróf in Budapest, Hungary, the only child of an assimilated Jewish couple: George Gróf, a dairy merchant, and Maria Gróf. At age four the child was hospitalized with scarlet fever, which damaged his ears. In school he had to sit directly in front of the teacher because of his impaired hearing. In ...

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Hebard, Grace Raymond (2 July 1861–11 Oct. 1936), feminist, historian, college professor, and suffragist, was born the third of four children in Clinton, Iowa. Her parents, Reverend George Diah Alonzo Hebard and Margaret Marven Hebard, had emigrated west from New York to do missionary work. George Hebard built a Presbyterian church and served in the territorial legislature, but died in ...