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Excerpt from Long View: Papers and Addresses
T will always be a marvel, to those who know her story inti mately, that Mary E. Richmond ever found and entered upon the path that led her into the field of social work.
She was born in Belleville, Illinois, on August 5, 1861. Her parents, who came from Baltimore, soon returned to that city, however, and her childhood was passed there during the period of turmoil and readjustment following the Civil War. Her father and mother both died young, of tuberculosis, leaving the little Mary to be brought up by relatives who were far from well-off. Although there was a dearth of this world's goods, there was no lack of ideas in her environment; the grandmother and aunt who took the most responsibility for her upbringing were both much given to espousing new beliefs and causes. She heard animated discussion of woman's suffrage, racial problems, spiritualism, anti vivisection, and similar radical movements, as they were then esteemed, acquiring thus very early a bias in favor of liberal and individual views, and a tendency to scrutinize ideas all the more closely if they seemed to be commonly accepted. In later years, she once said, The radicals think I'm a conservative and the con servatives think I'm a radical, and they're both surprised that I somehow manage to keep in the procession. The incisiveness of intellect and the sense of humor which were always characteristic of her must have saved her from the danger of becoming a fanatic; and She has related how as a ten-year - old she was perfectly aware of the hocus-pocus being practiced on her elders by some of the leaders who frequented their home, and marveled that they could be so easily duped.
She learned to read at an early age - out of Pickwick Papers. She has told us that when the news of Dickens' death in 1870 reached America she wept for hours and would not be comforted!
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