Susan Jane Conant was born on May 20, 1946, in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts, to Eugene A. Conant and Dorothy Morrison Conant. At the time of her birth, Susan’s father served as president of Anderson-Wills Incorporated, a business selling automobiles in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where her mother’s family lived. A resident of nearby Methuen, Massachusetts, her mother had previously worked as a secretary for Anderson-Wills. Susan’s paternal grandfather had worked as a high school principal in Maine. Susan grew up in the Merrimack Valley, spending part of her childhood in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Her father trained pointers and encouraged his daughter’s interest in dogs.
In 1964, Susan Conant moved to the Boston area, enrolling at Radcliffe College, where she studied anthropology and social relations. She received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in June, 1968. Also in 1968, Conant wed Carter Conrad Umbarger, who received his doctorate in psychology from Brandeis University the following year.
Conant moved to Philadelphia, where she was employed as a kindergarten teacher for public schools during 1969. During that year and the next, she served as a group therapist for the Child Study Center of Philadelphia. Conant relocated with her husband to Newton, Massachusetts, and he established a clinical psychology practice in nearby Cambridge. They have one daughter, Jessica.
In 1973, Conant began studies focusing on human...
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