Mary Kirby was born in Chicago in 1947 and raised in north suburban Waukegan, Illinois. Ms. Kirby's Irish Roman Catholic family was very involved in politics. Her father was an attorney, and her mother was an active member of the Democratic Party. Her mother eventually became the Democratic Committeewoman for Lake County Illinois. In 1968, Kirby, a senior at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania, was home for the summer and attended events in both Lincoln and Grant parks related to the Democratic National Convention (DNC). She traveled to Chicago from Waukegan for three days. After seeing the number of military and police personnel, however, she did not participate in the violent demonstrations that took place outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel. She recalled hearing Abbie Hoffman, attending a love-in at Lincoln Park, and the attitudes of the young people she met while in Chicago during convention week.