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Bolton, Sarah Knowles (1841–1916) - Popular History

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Sarah Knowles Bolton was born in Farmington, Connecticut, on September 15, 1841, daughter of John Segar and Elizabeth Mary (Miller) Knowles and descendant of Joseph Jenckes, governor of Rhode Island from 1727 to 1732, and Col. John Ally, a historian of the Pequot War. Her father died when she was eleven, and she and her mother went to live with an uncle, Samuel Miller, and later another uncle, Col. H. L. Miller, a Hartford lawyer.

Sarah was considered a precocious and gifted child; she published a poem at age fifteen. She graduated from Catharine Beecher’s Hartford Female Seminary in 1860 and taught in Natchez, Mississippi, until the outbreak of the Civil War, when she returned to Connecticut and taught in Meriden.

On October 16, 1866, Sarah married Charles E. Bolton and moved to Cleveland, where she became active in the temperance movement and humanitarian reforms. She wrote a book for the cause, The Present Problem , in 1874. From 1878 to 1881 she was on the editorial staff of the Boston Congregationalist , then traveled for two years in Europe studying higher education and better working conditions for women. Upon her return Bolton became secretary of the Woman’s Christian Association and assistant corresponding secretary to Frances E. Willard in the Woman’s Christian Union.

In addition to her activities in political movements, Sarah Bolton wrote fiction and poetry, and in 1885 began a series of successful, popular biographies with inspirational titles such as Lives of Poor Boys Who Became Famous (1885), Lives of Girls Who Became Famous (1886), Famous American Authors (1887), Famous American Statesmen (1888), Successful Women (1888), Famous Men of Science (1889), Famous English Authors of the Nineteenth Century (1890), Famous English Statesmen of Queen Victoria’s Reign (1891), Famous Types of Womanhood (1892), Famous Voyagers and Explorers (1893), Famous Leaders Among Men (1894), Famous Leaders Among Women (1895), and Famous Givers and Their Gifts (1896). She also published a biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1904.

Bolton died on February 1, 1916.

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