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Celebrating the Pollitzer Sisters
There are many families in Charleston that have associated with their name a particular issue or historical aspect. For the Pollitzer family, who lived in this home on Pitt St., they will always be associated with education and women’s rights, particularly women’s suffrage.
The three Pollitzer sisters would each make their own significant contributions to education and women’s rights both in Charleston, and across the country.
The Eldest — Carrie Pollitzer
Carrie Pollitzer was a tireless advocate for the growing Kindergarten education movement early in her career. She established Charleston’s first free Kindergarten in the carriage house of the home on Pitt St. Carrie would eventually become the Assistant Principal of the South Carolina Kindergarten Training School. She helped establish two free Kindergarten schools for white children in Charleston, and offered the first free public school lunches in Charleston. Carrie was also prominent in the Women’s Suffrage movement in Charleston.⠀
Mabel in the Middle
Mabel Pollitzer graduated from, and returned to teach at, Memminger Normal School in Charleston. She was a biology teacher there for over 40 years, always looking for new ways to encourage the interest of girls in science. Mabel was responsible for the design of the school’s laboratory, and the creation of their Department of Natural History. Like her sisters, Mabel was very active in the Women’s Suffrage movement. One of her most notable accomplishments was the establishment of the Charleston Free Library in 1930, where she remained a trustee for over 30 years.⠀
Anita Pollitzer — Star Suffragette
Anita Pollitzer was the youngest, and perhaps most famous, of the three sisters. She graduated from Memminger and Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, just like her two older sisters. But unlike her sisters, Anita continued to spend most of her time in New York. She became friends with an unknown artist there, and helped spark her career– Georgia O’Keefe. Anita and her sisters were among the founders of the South Carolina branch of the Congressional Union, which later became part of the National Women’s Party. Anita was very active and well-known in the NWP. She was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Later, Anita would become a tireless advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, even meeting with First Lady Elanor Roosevelt.⠀
To learn more, check out the articles about the Pollitzer family in the Lowcountry Digital Libary.