A snapshot biography of Anne Frank

Anne Frank

Anne Frank loved to write. She dreamt of being a journalist one day.

But when she was thirteen years old, her family went into hiding to avoid deportation to a concentration camp. They were Jewish, and this was Amsterdam during the Holocaust.

In hiding, Anne kept a diary, as writing brought her joy. In her words, “When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!”

Eventually, Anne and her family were discovered, arrested, and sent to a concentration camp. There most of the family, including Anne, perished. Her diary, however, survived and was published after the war. And while Anne never had the chance to become a journalist, her words continue to live on, influencing many worldwide.

“A snapshot biography of Anne Frank” sources: Photo collection Anne Frank House, Amsterdam / The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank / Wikimedia Commons

A snapshot biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe had a gift for words and the courage to use them. With vigor, she would voice what she believed right at seeing wrongs in society. 

Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1811, Harriet grew up in a family that believed in the importance of making a positive impact in the world. Raised with that mindset, well educated, Harriet found her way to contribute by writing books. 

Throughout her life, she would write thirty books and numerous articles. But it was her most famous work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that helped shift society. The story, written about slavery in the U.S. and the impact of enslavement on people, was published first in serial form in 1851 and then as a book in 1852. It had an initial print run of five thousand copies. Three hundred thousand copies were sold within a year, and about two million copies within five years. While unconfirmed, President Lincoln reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war,” upon meeting Harriet in 1862. 

Shortly before writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet wrote, “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.”

“A snapshot biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe” sources: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/june-05/ / https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org / Hedrick, Joan D. (1994). Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-506639-5. / National Archives and Records Administration / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Beecher_Stowe / Wikimedia Commons

A snapshot biography of actress Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

In a time of glamorous stars, Ingrid Bergman was simple. Described as naturally shy, sweet, considerate, conscientious, a hard worker, she would become the biggest female box office star of her time.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1915, Ingrid experienced much sorrow in her youth. Her mother passed away when Ingrid was two and a half years old. Her father passed away when she was fourteen. Sent to live with an aunt, the aunt passed away six months later. Ingrid went to live with another aunt and her five children.

The many challenges she experienced didn’t change her dream of becoming an actress. From a young age, Ingrid knew she wanted to act. Acting for the first time in a film came in 1932, her first speaking role in 1934, by her early 20s, Ingrid was a star in Sweden and would soon become a star in the U.S.

Ingrid went on to have a long and global acting career. She spoke Swedish, German, English, Italian and French, and acted in all five languages. And she won numerous awards for her films, including three Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and a BAFTA Award.

“A snapshot biography of actress Ingrid Bergman ” sources: Press release publicity photo of Ingrid Bergman for film Gaslight, 1944 / Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ingrid_Bergman,_Gaslight_1944.jpg)

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A snapshot biography of abolitionist Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett

“Judge thou has left me not a dollar, but I wish to say to thee and to all in this courtroom that if anyone knows a fugitive who wants a shelter and a friend, send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him.”

Thomas Garrett said these words as part of his closing argument in response to a judge, who said, “Thomas, I hope you will never be caught at this business again.”

The business being referred to was helping enslaved people escape to the north. The trial, which took place in 1846, was a lawsuit by two slaveowners for help Thomas provided a family that escaped. Thomas received a guilty verdict and a fine, leaving him in financial ruin. 

But he continued helping enslaved people escape. From his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the dividing line between North and South in the U.S., Thomas, an ardent abolitionist, was instrumental to the Underground Railroad. Working with Harriet Tubman and others, Thomas was able to help about 2,500 people make their way to freedom. 

He actively worked on behalf of minority groups into his early 80s, retiring shortly after the passing of the 15th Amendment in 1870. 

“A snapshot biography of abolitionist Thomas Garrett” sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Garrett / Kathleen Lonsdale, Is Peace Possible?, Penguin Books, 1957, p. 124 (referring to Speak Truth to Power by the AFSC) / Portrait taken circa 1850, Boston Public Library / Wikimedia Commons / Quote: History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2 (1874) by Henry Wilson, p. 85; also in Station Master on the Underground Railroad: The Life and Letters of Thomas Garrett (2005) by James A. McGowan, p. 65

Katharine Hepburn quote: “Kindness is one of the…

“Kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another. If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you. True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return.”

– Katharine Hepburn

Photo source: Portrait of Katharine Hepburn is a publicity photograph taken in 1941 / Metro Goldwyn Mayer / Wikimedia Commons

“Welcome to America”: a historical fiction snapshot

Pop keeps smiling, keeps saying, “Welcome to America. Look at this beautiful land. It’s perfect.”

I’ve never seen pop this joyful. He sang a song out loud as we walked down Mulberry street yesterday. Then said, “What a world this America is. We should have come sooner.”

A week in America and the old country is now a memory, though one that will never be long gone. For each in our family, leaving was felt uniquely. Pop was most mixed. Mama most excited. I most indifferent. My sister most bitter. At seventeen, with a boyfriend and many friends, leaving broke her heart. She went weeks without talking to mama and pop. Now at least, she acknowledges them with curt sentences and pleasantries. The pain, though, has not left her eyes. And we can all hear her tears at night.

Back in the old country, we lived in a quiet countryside near a town of many years past. In the maze of social hierarchy, our place in society was at the bottom, ostracized, scapegoats to whatever calamity needed someone for blame. Life was peaceful most of the time. But the times of turmoil, the pogroms, kept us from living with peace of mind.

Now we are Americans, even if not officially; we certainly feel like members of the land of the free and the brave. People keep saying to us, “Welcome to America, the better life.” Nothing ruins this dream for us either, not the rotten stench from trash everywhere, or the pick-potters, not the fights that occasionally break out between gangs.

After weeks of living with an uncle and his family, we move into our apartment in the tenement. Pop has the biggest smile I’d ever seen on him when he says, “People keep saying to us, welcome to America. Now I say welcome home,” in front of our new front door.


  1. “Welcome to America” is a work of historical fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
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A snapshot biography of Nat Love

Nat Love

People said Nat Love was one who never got discouraged. Regardless of what was happening, he kept a positive attitude.

Born enslaved in 1854 in Tennessee, Nat was a leader, hard worker and desired to help others from a young age. After his father and brother-in-law passed away while Nat was in his teens, he took on the responsibility of taking care of both households.

But with time, he longed to explore the world. When his uncle came to stay with the family, Nat felt the time was right to go. He went west, becoming a cowboy first in Texas and then in Arizona.

After living the cowboy life for eighteen years, Nat decided to settle down towards the late 19th century. He married and became a Pullman porter overseeing sleeping cars in Denver.

In the early 20th century, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a courier and guard for a security company. And where he published his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.”

“A snapshot biography of Nat Love” sources: “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.” (https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/natlove/natlove.html)