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Byline: AMY REEVES
As a woman in 19th century America, Dorothea Dix couldn't own property or vote. She wasn't allowed in the chambers of government legislatures.
But that wasn't going to stop her from changing the world.
Through her endless stamina and determination, Dix (1802-87) helped reform the way the mentally ill are treated in Western society.
From the time she was young, Dix listened to her Methodist minister father preach. She soon came to feel that time not spent improving the world around her was time wasted. At age 13, she decided it was time to act.
At that tender age, she left her parents to move in with her grandmother, a wealthy Boston matron. There she plunged into study with private tutors, reasoning that she needed to learn as much as possible to be prepared to deal with the outside world.
Her desire to help others proved greater, however. After only a year, Dix moved in with other relatives in Worcester, Mass., to open her own school for small children. Just 14 years old at the time, Dix found she …