The musical "Ragtime" interweaves the stories of three fictitious families with various historical figures. Here's a rundown of some of the real-life characters:
Henry Ford (1863-1947). Automobile manufacturer who pioneered the assembly line, on which 15 million affordable Model T cars were mass-produced between 1908 and 1928. Ford Motor Co. became the world's largest automobile manufacturer; the company's founder kept unions out of his plant until 1941.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940). Russian-born anarchist who immigrated to the United States in 1886. A champion of everything from the rights of women and workers to contemporary European drama, she was jailed several times for inciting riots and advocating draft resistance. In 1919, she was deported back to Russia, but left there disillusioned after two years and became a British citizen.
Harry Houdini (1874-1926). Escape artist born Ehrich Weiss in Hungary. Houdini came to this country as a child. Adapting his stage name from that of French magician Houdin, he specialized in escapes from such locked-tight spaces as prison cells and underwater tanks. He also developed a reputation for exposing fraudulent spiritual mediums.
J.P. Morgan (1837-1913). Financier and philanthropist who formed J.P. Morgan and Co. as well as U.S. Steel Corp. and General Electric. At one point, he rescued the government from bankruptcy. Part of his art collection was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the rest, including rare books and manuscripts, is in New York's Pierpont Morgan Library.
Evelyn Nesbit (1885-1967). Famous beauty who was the model for Charles Dana Gibson's Gibson Girl. The teen-age mistress of architect Stanford White, she married unstable millionaire Harry K. Thaw in 1903. Thaw murdered White in a jealous rage three years later.
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). American educator and orator. The son of a slave, he became the first president of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute and advocated education as the means to advancement for African-Americans. Among his writings is his 1901 autobiography, "Up from Slavery."