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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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Hank Aaron [left] and Reggie Jackson [right] at the Hank Aaron Boyhood Home Museum, Mobile, Alabama, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith

The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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Aaron, Hank (5 Feb. 1934–22 Jan. 2021), baseball player, was born Henry Louis Aaron, the third of eight children of Herbert Aaron, Sr., a shipyard riveter, and Estella Pritchett Aaron in Mobile, Alabama.

When Aaron was eight his family moved into a windowless two-room house his father had built with discarded lumber in the Black section of Toulminville, Alabama, four miles northwest of Mobile. Aaron loved hitting bottle caps with a broomstick. It became his batting style—lashing at a ball with his weight on his front foot. As a teenager, he developed his game in a segregated, all-Black recreational league....

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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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Bourdain, Anthony (25 June 1956–8 June 2018), chef, author, and television personality, was born in New York City, the eldest of two sons of Pierre Bourdain, whose father had immigrated from France, and Gladys Bourdain (née Sacksman), who grew up in a middle-class Jewish American family in the Bronx. Pierre managed a record store before working as an executive for the London and Columbia classical music labels. Gladys was a copyeditor at the ...

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President Barack Obama with Anthony Bourdain at Bún cha Huong Lien Restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2016, by Pete Souza

President (2009–2017 : Obama). Office of Management and Administration. Office of White House Personnel. Photography Office. (ca. 2010 – 1/20/2017)

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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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Canaday, John Edwin (1 Feb. 1907–19 July 1985), art critic and author, was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, to William Franklin Canaday, a lawyer, and Agnes Musson Canaday. At the age of seven he moved with his family to Texas, living first in Dallas before settling in San Antonio. Growing up with four siblings in a well-to-do household, Canaday was encouraged from an early age to develop his obvious artistic talent. Following graduation 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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Cowles, Alfred (15 Sept. 1891–28 Dec. 1984), businessman and economist, was born Alfred Cowles 3rd in Chicago, the oldest of four children born to Alfred Cowles, Jr., a lawyer, and Elizabeth, née Cheney. His grandfather, Alfred Cowles, Sr., was one of the incorporators of the ...

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Davis, Ossie (18 Dec. 1917–4 Feb. 2005), actor, playwright, author, director, civil rights activist, and humanitarian, was born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell, Georgia. He was the oldest of five siblings. His father, Kince Charles Davis, was a self-taught railway and construction engineer. His mother, Laura Cooper, was a homemaker. She called him “RC” for short, but others misconstrued her pronunciation as “Ossie.” His family was impoverished, and although both parents were illiterate, they stressed the importance of education through oral tradition with storytelling....

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Ossie Davis speaking at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., 1963, by Rowland Scherman

U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. ca. 1953–ca. 1978

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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...