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Title: Oral History Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973. Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Pollitzer, Mabel, interviewee
Interview conducted by Myers, Constance
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 144 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-19, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973. Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0047-1)
Author: Constance Myers
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973. Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0047-1)
Author: Mabel Pollitzer
Description: 195 Mb
Description: 44 p.
Note: Interview conducted on September 19, 1973, by Constance Myers; recorded in Charleston, South Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Linda Killen.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973.
Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Pollitzer, Mabel, interviewee


Interview Participants

    MABEL POLLITZER, interviewee
    CONSTANCE MYERS, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So you think that picketing helped the cause and didn't hinder it.
MABEL POLLITZER:
If they hadn't been picketing they might not have gotten it for years. It helped it so greatly! It was only when they picketed, it was when they had these bonfires, it was when they did everything to bring it to the attention of the people. These marvelous women. They would soak, first it was wood, in oil. And the urns in which they lighted the bonfires were so high. And these dear little young women would keep the fires burning as a reminder.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Where were these binfires?
MABEL POLLITZER:
In Washington, near the White House gates. And that just infuriated the people. One after the other was taken to jail. That's all told in this wonderful book. (The Story of the Woman's Party by Inez Haynes Irwin, published by Harcourt, Brace and Co.) I have several copies; they are Anita's. I'm not lending them to anybody. One of the dear ladies of the NOW said "Could I borrow it?" I could let her "come around to the house and spend days reading it, but I have no right to let it get out of the house." I mean even with the best of intentions.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I'll come back one day and do this. And take notes.
MABEL POLLITZER:
But you asked me if the picketing helped. It was the

Page 2
most marvelous strategy. I mean, when we win in war anything that is honorable is considered right. Here we wanted to win not for the few women who were picketing, but for the mass of women in America who could not speak their thoughts and who could not work to attain their rights.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Were there bonfires lit and kept lighted locally?
MABEL POLLITZER:
No. I know of no bonfires except at the Capital. It was to remind the Senators and the Congressmen and to remind the president that state by state suffrage was coming. But it should be that national amendment that had been introduced into Congress. The vote for women, for which they had been fighting for forty-eight years, but intensely fighting since 1913. The National Woman's Party was organized January 2, 1913, and from then on the work was intense, but it became intense, intenser, and most intense around 1917. Then the strategy was to do everything to bring it about before 1920. You see, there was going to be a new election in 1920 between Harding and Cox. The whole aim was to get it speedily. And as I told you last time, at first Woodrow Wilson seemed in a stage almost of apathy toward women's suffrage.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Not antagonistic, just apathetic?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I would say it was apathetic. Then he became interested in getting it state by state. And he worked to get suffrage in New York State. But the National Woman's Party, who had introduced the national amendment, wanted that amendment passed. Then the thing was to get Woodrow Wilson. He then became really, deeply interested in having the amendment passed. During ratification, when it was brought up before the different states, he himself telegraphed the different governors in states where ratification

Page 3
would be difficult. In other words, later, he felt it was important. Now, the point was, was he feeling that way mostly because of wanting women to vote or was it because he wanted to get the women's vote for the Democratic party? And consequently their strategy was pitting Democrat against Republican. It was Harding that worked so hard—oh so hard it was—to get that ratification in Tennessee. It was Harding then. But it was also Wilson then working on the Democrats of Tennessee, through the state machinery, to get the governor to get the Democrats of the legislature to vote for it. It was a regular seesaw. Now we have more Democrats; now we have more Republicans.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What do you think he felt in his innermost being on this question? Do you believe he truly wanted the vote for women or was it politically expedient?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I know definitely it was politically expedient. In his heart, being the man he was, I feel, and I love Woodrow Wilson, I really feel that he must have seen that the cause was right and just. In this book one of the writers said it was something like a child ready to go to college. And nagging her father, nagging him, please to get the money so she could go to college. And although it seemed as though she was torturing her father all the time, yet in her heart she dearly loved her father. And that was the way it was described here. They made Woodrow Wilson almost, we might say, ashamed that our country did not have full democracy, when in Russia, in Austria, in Germany and in other parts of Europe they did have women voting. And here Wilson, at the Paris peace talks, urging democracy for all nations, and he did not say "but we do not have it in our own country."

Page 4
[Interruption]
CONSTANCE MYERS:
We were talking last time about your visit to Susan B. Anthony's home in Rochester and the tape cut off before we got through with that little episode. I would like to hear more about it. I know that you had been at the University of Michigan and you stopped through Rochester en route to see your sister Anita Pollitzer, in New York. You had friends there, in Rochester, and you met the Mosher sisters and visited them. That's where we left off.
MABEL POLLITZER:
The Mosher sisters invited us to lunch. And they said one of the nicest places would be at the new airport in Rochester. The Moshers seemed to be very fond of us because, when their aunt, Susan B. Anthony, was honored by being in the New York University Hall of Fame, it was Anita, my sister, who handed the wreath to the niece, either Miss Marion Mosher or her sister Florence Mosher, to place the wreath. I don't know that you've been to the Hall of Fame. But it's a glorious out of doors place where those who deserve to be honored are honored in the Hall of Fame at New York University. Not downtown near 8th Street, but Washington Heights. Through suffrage Anita had known the two sisters.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So they were active, too.
MABEL POLLITZER:
I do not know to what extent. But Anita spent quite a while in Rochester working for . . . well, I'm not sure whether it was working for suffrage or for the Equial Rights Amendment. I cannot be sure of that. The chances are it was Equal Rights Amendment. To see some of the Congressmen and so forth who may have lived there. Notice the word "may" because I cannot be sure. Anyway, so the Moshers invited us to the airport. Of course they called for us. We were stopping at

Page 5
the hotel.
And they said "Wouldn't you like to go through the house where Aunt Susan lived?" I can describe it as perhaps rather a simple home. Very lovely in every way. My recollection is that it was a rather narrow house, or appearing so. It was three stories, I think. And we went through the different rooms in which Aunt Susan did much of her work. And the table where she sat. And her various appertinances and so forth.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was there, then, much memorabilia lying about?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Oh yes. I cannot remember just what we did see. But it was all very, very interesting.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Who is living there now?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Oh, it is kept as one of these treasured homes for the city. I'm not sure whether there was any admission charge, but I think there probably is a small amount. But being their guests, of course, we don't know about that being the guests of the nieces. But I think so because nearly all these homes that are kept in memory of a great person have to have admission charges in order to defray expenses.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was most significant about that visit? What impressed you most about the tour of the home?
MABEL POLLITZER:
That we were in the home where this great woman lived. Where this great woman had these ideas, ideas of working for Equal Rights. And was brilliant. Of course you know whe was a school teacher. When she started working for this cause, that women should vote, people would throw eggs at her. She had to undergo all sorts of taunts and all sorts of things that to some people would be humiliating. But she rose above everything.

Page 6
And that's why, when the amendment was introduced, it was her nephew naturally who was chosen, Representative Anthony was chosen.
I correspond with the Mosher sisters. One of them passed away recently, but I correspond every year. One who was in Washington is now living in California. I can't be sure of the name. She just moved there a short time ago. But I have it in my address book. It's very nice to keep in touch with her and I tell her, of course, all about Anita.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Thank you for telling me about that visit. I'd like to know a little bit about your background. It is of considerable interest to people who are studying the history of women and the history of feminism, women's right movement, to know what kind of home life these women had. Were they inspired to this . . . activity by books around the house, by their father, by their mother? What was your home life like? Your childhood? What was your father like?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Oh my dear. Papa was a gentleman, to me, above all others. As a little child I felt papa's deep, ardent love for each one of us. At night he would sit by us very often and draw little pictures. And he would talk to us of things that we felt, even as little children, were so interesting and so worthwhile. And when we didn't want to go to bed and Mama would say "Time to go to bed," papa would say "All right, let's go up the steps together and when you come down look on the mantle piece and I'll have another drawing for you." Well of course, naturally, I Mabel, would be eager to go upstairs with father, get in bed, and in the morning first thing run to the mantle piece to see what drawing father had made.

Page 7
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And so your father was a capable artist.
MABEL POLLITZER:
An amateir artist. Father moved from the North, New York, to Beaufort, S.C. when he was about thirteen years old. Knowing that there were no colleges in Beaufort when father had had his early education with a very fine teacher. I think it was a private school then, but I cannot be sure. Then grandpa did a wonderful thing. In grandfather's family, father, Gustave, was the eldest. That's my father. And then there was Henry and Sigmund. I never knew how he got the name Sigmund, but he did. And Richard. Then along came a little girl, Julia. So grandfather felt it would be a very good idea to have a college graduate, educated along all lines if possible, to be a tutor for all of his family. Under him, papa pursued music and went on with music, in which father was gifted. Played the finest classical pieces with my sister Carrie.1 Piano. But along with that also father was educated in art. Papa drew beautifully. Nearly always, as far as I know, in pencil or crayon. Shaded. Sometimes the drawings were maybe 15" by 8" large. Well, after father finished the equivalent of a college education, then he went into the cotton business, the ginning business, with grandfather. And I always like to emphasize what the ginning business in cotton was. Thinking of Eli Whitney. Because so many people don't know what ginning is. They think of it as gin, a whisky. Father's was in the cotton business. In Charleston there was a gentleman who was also in the cotton business and knew grandfather very, very well. After seeing father a few times, he said to grandfather "I want your son, Gus, to be with me in the business. I love him as if he were my son. He will be in my house just as a son would be.

Page 8
I will give him every advantage and he can start in the cotton business with me."
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Then your father went through a traditional, youthful upbringing of education and then early career, going into a career in his youth. What was his attitude toward women, toward rights for women? Could you sense anything from your association?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I cannot ever remember father discussing the injustice of women not voting. I don't remember either mother or father ever speaking of that. But papa was deeply interested and active in all that was good for the city. And as a young man he always felt it was worthwhile working in various organizations, without salary, for the good of his adopted city.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was he interested in the question of legal rights, political rights, civil rights?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Father was interested in all questions that had to do with rights of people.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You heard discussions of this kind of question.
MABEL POLLITZER:
No, dear, I can't say that I ever remember any of those things. You see I was just twenty-four when papa passed away in 1909. And I was all involved in teaching. Not only teaching, but teaching a subject which was absolutely, at that time, new to the high schools in South Carolina. Biology. No one in South Carolina had taught biology. You see, I was deeply involved. I cannot remember that father ever worked or thought or perhaps discussed anything about women's rights.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
If he didn't discuss women's rights, did you hear civil libertarian talk at home, about civil rights and civil liberties, the

Page 9
rights of Americans, the Bill of Rights freedoms for Americans, things of this sort. You didn't?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Can't say that I ever heard those discussions, in the early days
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And what about your mother? Was she a traditional homemaker?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Let me say a word more, if you will, about father. When I said papa was so interested in getting absolutely the best for Charleston . . . they wanted father for mayor. But father's mind was really unusual. Clear, logical, and everybody would come, almost, to seek papa's opinion. I remember so well how those in office would come to this house and affectionately . . . they would often say "Polly, I've got to ask you something about this" or "I must tell you about this? What do you think about this?" Often called Polly by his devoted friends. The thing was that papa often said, had he been a lawyer, maybe people would have passed by his shingle. But not being a lawyer, everybody came to get advice. The mayor, the treasurer, the aldermen. And father was on, oh, so many committees! As a lay member he was on the board of Roper Hospital. Not a doctor. But they sought out his advice. And he was chairman of the first what was then called modern operating rooms in Charleston.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
He was an involved citizen. You came into an involvement in political and civic affairs rather naturally because you had this in your earliest home life. Deep involvement . . .
MABEL POLLITZER:
Yes. I was inspired by papa because he was active. He was a member of the board of health. And there's a beautiful story that I love to tell. Of course it's a true story. When we moved into this

Page 10
5 Pitt [unknown] Street house in the year 1896 with a lot 212 feet deep. We had wonderful vegetables, chickens and a beautiful cow. And mama said now all the children will get all the milk and cream . . . that they would want. We had so much that mother would send it to the neighbors. One day father came home from a meeting of the board of health and said to mother "We'll have to give up the cow." Mama said "But we're so happy with the cow. The cow is giving us wonderful milk." Father said "For the good of all, we'll have to give up the cow." And mama said "Tell me more." Father said "I made the motion at the board of health. There is too much typhoid in our city." Cows mean an over abundance of flies. And so we'll give up our cow. And that reminds me of that wonderful psalm . . . something about doing what is right even to one's own hurt. And in school, when we were allowed to read psalms, I always thought of that. Because even if it hurt our own family in not getting our supply of milk and being able to give it to friends, father, for the good of all, did what he felt was right. I think it's very beautiful. Well, father was, as I say, a member of the Roper Hospital, of the board of health, a member of the fire department, for years chairman of finance of the board of school commissioners, and I could keep on and on.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Tell me about your mother. Was she a traditional homemaker? Was she community involved?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Mama was a traditional homemaker who was principally involved in the home, her precious husband and her darling children. Mother did take interest in some Synagogue activities and she belonged to a

Page 11
guild belonging to our temple, or synogogue as I like to say. It was so sweet, I think. Papa would always, when he would have time, help along with the work. Because papa did not want mama to use the pedal sewing machine. He didn't want the pedaling for mother. And so the aprons were cut out, mama did all of the basting, and I can see father at the old Singer that had the pedals and father would say "Now let me take over now and contribute my part."
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was your mother well?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Yes, mama was remarkably well. I do not know just why papa didn't want mama to do the pedaling except that he loved her so much.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She was not a club woman or active in social affairs, only the synogogue's women's guild?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Just in what now has become the sisterhood, and later in the council of Jewish Women, a wonderful group.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she read a great deal?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Oh yes. In mama's later years, when she had time, I have never seen such a reader, an avid reader. Book after book and always worthwhile. And the marvelous thing is once mama had read a book she would usually start right over, that same book, and look over it again. And she would have it forever. She could tell you all the stories. I remember one occasion, when I had something called paratyphoid—it wasn't typhoid but I had to rest for many, many weeks—mother would read entire sets. All of Stevensons. All of them sitting by my bedside. Reading to me. She was really a precious love. I consider that we were among the most fortunate of the fortunate in having

Page 12
parents as we did have, so eager for our advancement of learning.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So you became familiar with literature at your mother's knee.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Definitely. And the best. And mother's English was so superior to so many people. And mother's corrections were darling. If I'd say "Mama, I'm going to pick out some material for a dress" mother would say "Mabel, not ‘pick out’ but ‘select.’ " Or whatever it was. Mother was a graduate of the Normal College of the City of New York in 1872. Now called Hunter College.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Where is that located? Where is the building?
MABEL POLLITZER:
It has moved from where it was in middle downtown New York to not so far from the new New York University where it is now. Washington Heights. But I visited the old Normal College in 1904. I went there and I saw the president of the college, Dr. Hunter, who said to me "I remember your mother." It was wonderful.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Where was your mother from originally?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Mama was born in Baltimore. Her father was one of the distinguished scholars, authors and rabbis. Rabbi Aaron Guinzburg. In Austria, in Prague, so much was thought of his ability to learn and the outlook, the result you might say of his education, that the authorities made an exception. At that time not one of the Jewish faith, no matter how learned, had ever become a Ph.D. But they said for Rabbi Guinzburg we make an exception and he will be Dr. Guinzburg. He was always known as the Rev. Dr. Guinzburg. My mother was Clara Guinzburg, then becoming Clara Guinzburg Pollitzer. And mother was born in Baltimore because

Page 13
when grandfather Guinzburg came to this country he first went to Baltimore. I've never heard just how it happened that he went to Baltimore. He introduced Reform Judaism into our country. Now, Rabbi Guinzburg was a reformer before Isaac M. Wise. Isaac M. Wise started the Hebrew University at Cincinnati, and that is teaching reform Judaism. Now grandfather spent his time with languages, books, writing and the rabinical duties. He did not start a school. But we have a cup—oh, I remember, we gave it away to my nephew—in which it is inscribed "Given by the Methodist Ministers of your class, who learned Hebrew under your tutelage." And grandfather had classes in Hebrew for many of the Protestant religions. So they could really read the original, more or less, Bible.2
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was your mother's maternal heritage?
MABEL POLLITZER:
It sounds so proud if I tell you all these things. I only can tell you I just feel the greatness. Mother and her family belonged to this distinguished family of Kuh in Prague. They were a family in which there were editors, lawyers, writers, doctors. And when Anita and father's sister went over together and spent quite a long time in Austria, in Vienna and in Prague, they went to the cemetary to look up the first burial stones they could find of the family of Kuh. And there on the earliest tombstone, in German "came or stemmed from Spain 1498" the time shortly after Columbus went on his trips. And at that time the Jews were terribly persecuted. There were the Inquisitions. So this family of Kuh moved over to Prague. Prague and Vienna in those days were cultural centers. So that was why they then went there. Of course there was really no America in 1498. So that was the beginning of the

Page 14
Kuh family. When Anita and my aunt went there, there were still some of the family in existence there. Some who had not been persecuted. That was before the time of Hitler, but anyway there was some of the family there. They were very distinguished, most cultured, living under the best conditions.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Tell me about the document that you have before you.
MABEL POLLITZER:
I'm holding in my hand here a copy of what was submitted to the Federation of Women's Clubs. I should say to the Charleston Federation of Women's Clubs. Here very often one is asked3 to submit a biography if you have done community or religious or educational work or all three for twenty-five years or more.
Well, of course, as I started very early, my first big activity was the Civic Club. Dated from about 1912 or 1913, shortly after I finished college in 1906. Because then the Charleston Civic Club, I felt, was most community minded and doing wonderful work. And it was shortly after I joined that they said to me "It seems like you would be a fitting chairman of the City Betterment Committee." I said I would be happy to serve if I could do it well. I never missed a meeting. I never knew how I did all these things.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
This led you to involvement in all of these organizations, or in work with or cooperation with them. There's a great long list there. It's impressive.
MABEL POLLITZER:
These are the various things that I did. These are the various things in which I felt I really was a pioneer. I said

Page 15
pioneer in classroom and school, and community activities.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
There's a list of about twenty-five organizations here, all having to do . . .
MABEL POLLITZER:
They aren't organizations. All activities in which I pioneered. I pioneered in classroom—in school clubs.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MABEL POLLITZER:
I'm using the word pioneered because I know of nobody who did many of these things before these ideas came into my mind. And once they came into my mind, I just had to satisfy myself and work towards some goal.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So as a matter of fact you may have been involved with many more groups than appear?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Oh yes. These are the things that are outstanding. If I were to read a book I would say this and this and this. Anyway, the point is, I did pioneer in classroom and school activities, city activities, county activities, state activities, and national activities. My national activities involved at one time when I felt there should not be capital punishment. Now I'm on the fence. I don't know. National activities certainly were the National Women's Party with suffrage. And after suffrage I worked like a beaver without stopping to get the equal rights amendment passed. I would say educational activities were of course my primary, primary interest. Naturally, being a teacher.4 And I did a great deal of press work and had many things published. I wrote a great many publications. I wrote plays for the school, plays for the health board.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I hope they've got them on file.

Page 16
MABEL POLLITZER:
I do not know. But anyway, one was concerning antimosquito work and so on. Another—they dramatized this, really I attended to it—was on first aid, given before our whole school body. And it went over beautifully. It was Dr. First Aid and so forth. I was chairman of the City Betterment Committee, as I said, of the Civic Club of Charleston. And I was the founder of plant exchange day in March, 1915. At that time I had never heard of any plant exchange in the South. But I saw a wheelbarrow of violet plants, roots just as fresh with the earth on it. And this wheelbarrow of plants was about to be dumped just one block away from us. When I saw the wastage, I thought "My, the people who would love to get violets." Because violet plants then were gradually disappearing. Well, I spoke of it at the Civic Club. I went to a physician, not mine, but one who thought the world and all of father and had worked with father in Roper Hospital and health boards and so on. I asked him, as he was also a botanist, "you know, I'd like to send out return postal cards to many who have lovely gardens where the surplus, instead of being wasted, could enter the gardens of somebody desiring these plants." And he said "A wonderful idea." We had circulars and everything. Tremendous advertisement through the Civic Club. I had one hundred on my committee. Because we had to have committees on collection, after we knew who would cooperate. We had to have committees on distribution. I received help, of course, from the mayor, so we would have policemen so it wouldn't be a grab festival. And we started the first plant exchange at Memminger school, where I was teaching. Then I decided, to have great interest, we would give a prize to the one

Page 17
who could take the best photographs of the plants being unloaded at Memminger. And it was very interesting, a fifteen year old youngster got the prize for the best picture that was taken.
And some years afterwards, he became the director of our art gallery. He loved photography and art at that age. Robert N. Whitelow. Anyway, the point is, I worked very hard on plant exchange. And there was a very fine woman who was just as interested, I would say, as I was after I proposed the idea. Mrs. William Lanneau. After about four years, on one occasion—that was the time I think I had that paratyphoid or whatever it was—she took over. I realized I could not go on with this and with school and with everything else. So after about the fourth year, Mrs. Lanneau was chairman of it all. Did wonderful work for a long period of time.5 I liked the idea of having it in the schools in the afternoon, so that we could indoctrinate the school children with the idea of sharing. But later on, it became an activity taken over by the garden club. The Civic Club disbanded, by the way, some years ago.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was the Civic Club women?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Only women. I was there at the meeting where we had to vote whether to disband and give all of our records to the South Carolina Historical Society. We turned over the Plant Exchange activity to the garden club. The garden club sees fit now to have it once a year at the museum. I don't want to criticize. If that's the way they want to do it. But I like the idea, as I said, of having the school children see the tables set up and the plants labeled and everything so they could have a part in it.

Page 18
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Speaking of garden clubs, how did the local garden clubs greet your Woman's Party activities in Charleston? Did they not cooperate at all? Were they disinterested totally?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I wouldn't use the word disinterested. I don't like to use the word ignored because I don't know that they were ignorant of it, but I've never heard of them wanting to do anything. This seems a rather strange thing perhaps. I was the first to have gardens in Charleston and garden clubs. Through our school activities, I felt we had the space to have a garden. Here these girls entering high school had never, never seen probably a radish growing or any of the plants. So I divided this large space into 150 little 3×6 plots. Then those plots were divided in half so that each one would have a little square. The reason there was 150 was because 150 new pupils came to high school every year. Thirty in a class, five sections. It was all the lowest class, but divided into five sections.
The girls loved gardening time. Usually we started it maybe early in the morning. And a girl would say, for instance, "my bean has been cut down." I'd say "let's see what was the hungry insect." And we'd dig and we'd find a cut worm. How could we be smarter than the cut worm? We would make a little collar of cardboard and put it around the stem of the bean. And in that way they learned the relation of plants and animals. It was really a great experience.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
—human ingenuity. So Memminger High School was a female high school.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Only girls until shortly before, maybe about, 1945. I

Page 19
won't be sure of that date, but it was somewhere around 1945.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Were you already teaching when you became active in the suffrage movement?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I graduated from Columbia University in 1906. Before I graduated I had this precious letter from my principal, whom I adored, I venerated, I venerate his memory. Maybe I told you that I was still a senior in high school—or then it was high and normal. So I was a senior really in the second year of the normal school when he said to me "Miss Mabel, no biology is taught in South Carolina. When you graduate I want you to come back here and I want you to be on my faculty." His name was William Knox Tate, one of the grandest men that ever lived. Six feet four. Beautifully proportioned. And as he stood in front of me, maybe about two months before I graduated, his first question was "Miss Mabel, are you sure you're going to college?" I said "Definitely." "Where?" "Columbia University. I'm going to register at Teachers College." He said "Then I appoint you right now to be on our faculty." I said "Mr. Tate, that is a wonderful thing. I know you mean it and I'm happy to accept." Then he said "Now you will have very big offers before you graduate from Columbia. Don't feel because I've asked you that you will be impelled to return to Memminger. But I want you." I did have very big offers. The first position for which I was asked was to teach laboratory work at the University of Pennsylvania. It wasn't a temptation for me. No. I knew Mr. Tate. I really revered him. He was so wonderful. I cannot tell you just all in all what he was to me. But such an ideal teacher. So understanding. Well, I turned to Dr. Henry Crampton,

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a professor who asked me . . . I was also going to Barnard College . . . and he said "Miss Mabel, you don't mean you are refusing this position where they will need you at the University of Pennsylvania?" I said "I thank you, Dr. Crampton, I prefer to teach at Memminger High and Normal School." He said "And where is that?" I told him in Charleston, South Carolina. "I've never heard of it." I said "But you will hear of it. We have a great teacher, Professor Tate, who invited me to teach when I was still a senior. I want that position." He said "And you're sure of it?" "Definitely." I had other positions offered to me. Everything was turned down for the sake of Memminger. And in the final letter that Mr. Tate wrote to me, he said "Remember, we're going to give you the top salary in Charleston. As a beginner, it can not be anymore than $500 a year. If he had said five cents a year, I would have said all right. It was to be associated with him. It was so wonderful. I know he thought much of me, I know that. But it was just so wonderful to have his guidance. So of course, when you asked about my beginning my work as a teacher, it was in the autumn of 1906. The first class that graduated . . . to that class I would say I had taught nature study. Because these girls would grow up and not know a thing. They didn't know an oak from an elm. They didn't know anything about birds. They didn't know anything about the germination of seeds or plants. And being a normal school at that time, many of them were going to be teachers. Some of the girls were older than I.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You taught a combination of botany and biology and . . .
MABEL POLLITZER:
Botany was in the lowest class. Zoology was in the

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third year. Zoology and physiology.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And you taught them all?
MABEL POLLITZER:
My classes were very large. The first year we had no laboratory. Mr. Tate the Principal wanted me to plan my laboratory. He was so wonderfully understanding. He realized that the greater responsibility a person had, if he had any brains at all, he would rise to the occasion and act in a worthwhile way. So he said "Miss Mabel, for the first year you are teaching, it will be in a small classroom." Well, we had long tables and many chairs. The teaching was under the most adverse conditions. But I was there to inspire the girls to want more. He had always said a teacher's work could end if the girls were so interested that they would get for themselves more and more. Then you can not stop them. And I felt that was my mission. To get them to say they wanted more and more.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I wonder if you became interested in the position of women as a result of being mentor to so many young women. If you became eager for the cause of their betterment.
MABEL POLLITZER:
At that time . . . you see, this was 1906 as I say, I started teaching at high school and normal school. I don't believe I ever gave it a thought really. My thought was on my girls.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But don't you think your experiences with them were planting little seeds that would later germinate?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I can't say, really. I was terribly involved in many things. I had wonderful notebooks. The drawing was perfectly marvelous that these girls did. Their sketches, their desire to excell. And later

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on I became president of our Memminger teacher's association. Later on I was president of the county teachers association. I wrote more than the equivalent of a chapter in a manual published by the State Department of Education. It was a syllubus for the teaching of the various subjects in South Carolina high schools. I was so deeply involved in everything, I really at that time don't believe I ever thought of Woman's Rights.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What I'm trying to do is to discover what triggered your interest and dedication to the cause of women's rights.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Dear, I think it was Alice Paul. When she founded the National Women's Party on January 2, 1913, and later my sister Anita's involvement
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But how did you know she was even doing it?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Susan Pringle Frost was such a wonderful woman in Charleston, South Carolina who was chairman first of the Equal Suffrage League and then The Congressional Union, then split later on.6 As I said, some didn't want picketing and some wanted to belong to the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Carrie and I and Anita felt definitely we wanted to belong to the group that had split from the National American Women's organization, this group led by Alice Paul. Marvelous woman! No one can conceive of the greatness of Alice Paul. Not only her training. Her marvelous Quaker background. Her cause for what was right. Her inspiration as a leader. Her wisdom and intelligence. And just add to that every good quality and wonderful thing you can think of. We felt that getting it state by state, as presented by Susan Pringle Frost through Alice Paul, would be a great mistake. It would delay it for years. And as I said before, one legislature could undo the good work of a preceding group of legislators.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Tell me about your relations with Senator Pollock, who was

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your advocate in a way.
MABEL POLLITZER:
I did not know him personally. Anita did wonderful work with him, of which I will tell you in a little while. But I was chairman of the press. I won't call it committee because there was nobody else. But for years Miss Frost did a great deal in press work as chairman of the South Carolina branch of the National Women's Party. For years she did the press work. When I thought she began to be a little bit elderly—now I think she was still young.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How old was that?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I cannot tell you. And I was wanting to phone to St. Michael's, where she worshipped every Sunday. I wanted to find out what is the date on her gravestone or in their records when she died. I'm not sure. Maybe I can still do that. I cannot tell you when she died. But I did a tremendous lot for her. So that I was really the acting chairman. For years and years. I would go to see her. She would impart information to me. And there was another very wonderful worker, of the Business and Professional Women's Club, Mrs. Ruth McInnes. She lives in Charleston for years as the wife of Dr. McInnes. Later in life she moved to Greenville. As long as she was in Charleston, when telegrams were needed, I would say "Ruth"—her maiden name was Ruth Wilson—"please get off a dozen telegrams through the Business and Professional Women's Clubs." She did. But Anita had spoken before the Business and Professional Women's Club. And there was Marion Paul and Ann Mott, and as I say, Ruth McInnes. I can name many more who, having heard Anita, were inspired. And they continued to help

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me in sending off telegrams or writing letters when needed. And when you say about Sen. Pollock,7 you see, that is a story which ought to really be by itself. Anita with Sen. Pollock. And I will give that a little later. Now when you were asking about some of my activities. As I said, of course my educational activities were big things. My press work and publication. And I've spoken of the school garden clubs. Now before there was ever a garden club in Charleston, I had home garden clubs in which the girls changed an ugly, littered backyard into a lovely either vegetable or flower garden or both. This is a very interesting thing. Many of those girls who were members of that gardening club, the home garden club I'm speaking of, became florists. I think that's interesting. Now the way in which I could visit those home gardens - we talked about it in school. Because as I say, our gardens in school were small. But it inspired them to want more. So then I asked how many would want to become members of a home garden club. Keep in mind, this was before we ever had a garden club in Charleston. Knowing those members, their addresses, we had photographs taken of the ugly littered gardens or yards. Then, at the proper season, when everything was very beautiful, we had photographs taken of the change, the evolution that had taken place in the backyards. A prize was given by the Civic Club. I had told the Civic Club of it, coming under my group certainly: City Betterment. The thing was, how to get around to visit these gardens. There was a wonderful civic minded lady, Mrs. Julius M. Visanska. Marvelous club woman. Wonderful in every way. She had a chauffeur. And I said "Mrs. Visanska, I want to borrow your chauffeur and your car if I may for certain afternoons.

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Then I could have the pictures taken of these gardens and I could pay visits later to help the girls and then also when the photographs would be taken when the gardens had flowers and vegetables." She said "Certainly, you can have my chauffeur and my car." The car, as I remember it, didn't have any top. I remember we wound up on a bumpy street. I nearly bumped out of the car. I wondered if I would come back in the roadway or where. But no matter where those gardens were—some were rather far away—I visited them. And I felt that that had a great deal to do, we might say, in bettering the lives of these girls. It taught cleanliness. And it also taught keeping old rubber tires out of their yard. Rubber tires that would breed mosquitos. That was another thing I organized for my girls, with my girls. An anti mosquito league. At that time in Charleston nearly everybody had a big cistern. I explained to them just what was needed and the rules to become a member of the league. It was to keep down mosquitos. What to do and how to do it and so forth. And the dues for membership, because I felt it is always worthwhile, no matter just how few pennies we had, the dues for membership were three pennies. With those three pennies I sent off to a firm and we had anti mosquito buttons. The girls wore the anti mosquito buttons. Very proud that they were helping to rid Charleston of mosquitos. In those days, you must remember, there was no spraying. People didn't know the life history of insects.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
In our back yard there was a cistern covered over with cement, probably for the same reason.
MABEL POLLITZER:
And probably a little board that you could move from time to time. We too have a cistern because this house was built in about 1835. And I remember father's care in always washing off the roof

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before any rain would ever get into the cistern. We also had a force pump in the back yard that would force water up into the tank on top of the roof. I don't want to neglect what people should know.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Of course whoever is researching the Pollitzer sisters in Charleston and their contributions will have access to documents, too.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Well, what I'm telling you is pretty much what I told to the group from the Charleston Federation of Women's Clubs. I would like to speak of this with my school girls, because I thought doing things with school girls, to reach into the homes, was an enlarging factor, we might say, of their lives. In the early days women vendors would come to the house with a big bundle of whatever it might be. Dogwood, or beautiful flowers, or broken-off sprays of Holly or Jessamine. Whatever they could get. So we started first Save the Holly Club. It was a club to save the Holly. And the girls belonging to that club would tell their mothers not to buy the Holly when it was sold at the front doors because it meant that a Holly tree—which is very slow growing—had been mutilated. Damaged the growth. Insects and fungi would get into the broken tissue of the plant. Well, from the save the holly club, we went to Save the Wildflower Club. And that led to legislative ruling that no wild flowers could be picked within fifty feet of the roadside.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Miss Pollitzer, I see that you were an activist in so many areas beside women's rights.
MABEL POLLITZER:
The reason I was active in the different areas is because the lives of these girls covered so many areas.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The whole thing is the living of your philosophy.

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MABEL POLLITZER:
Well, that's very sweet to say so. But that is just what I felt. Now later on I worked for legislative action, first in our city. I'm just wondering if I'm forgetting any particular school activity, but I will glance over anything later on, because I did make a few notes. But this was very dear to my heart. We just had to have a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks. Now we all know the danger and damage done. In one of our schools in the city, a little girl was told that her little firecracker was out. And she wanted to see if she had to use a punk and light it again. She leaned over it. Well, the firecracker wasn't out. It exploded. She lost her eye. We knew of the danger. Another child thought it would be fun if they put the firecracker in the mouth and light it. And another one in the ear. And they did stupid things. At one of our private schools some boys, not students, thought it would be fun to throw a lighted pack of firecrackers into a soft coal bin. And here, among this bituminous coal—this was at Ashley Hall—in this bin containing I don't know what quantity of bituminous coal, the fire crackers set it on fire. I saw boys not far from here light a pack of firecrackers, throw it into a letter box, and then hide behind a near corner. So that when the children would see somebody coming, they would run. They wanted to find out the dismay when these firecrackers went off. The lady thought she was going to have a letter. But instead of that, there was an explosion. I thought that must not be. I went to Mr. Rogers, who was at that time the principal of Memminger. George C. Rogers, the father of the history professor. And I said "Mr. Rogers, you were principal where that little girl in your school was blinded. Come with me. We're going to talk at city council. You will

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be a witness to the fact that the little girl lost her eye." I said to get this thing going what I'm first going to do is to have it sponsored, not by one individual but by our Memminger teachers association parent-teachers association. So it was at the parent-teachers association, I said, "I want the president to be a member of this committee." And she, with Mr. Rogers and myself, would speak at city council. We did. One of the men said "Oh, don't take away the fun of the children." I said "Fun for the moment. Blindness forever." Our very house, right here, was set on fire by a firecracker. This particular day was Christmas, December 1926. I was busy wrapping up the last of my homemade candy for Christmas gifts for friends and acquaintances. And a dear lady upstairs, Mrs. Holmes, said "Miss Mabel, the house is on fire." The little cottage in the rear was already blazing. And she said "Come up stairs." I said "No, I'm packing." And the interesting part, what I put into a suitcase. Father's drawings, medals that the family had received, and precious little heirlooms, photographs. Never thought of putting clothes in. But all that took just a minute or two. Of course I phoned the fire alarm immediately. And there wasn't an engine to come here. Every engine had gone to the Weatherhome & Fisher Lumber Mill just about two or two and a half blocks from where we lived. Somebody in passing thought it would be fun to throw a firecracker—on the saw dust.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
MABEL POLLITZER:
—setting all this lumber on fire. That led to a very wonderful law that no lumber mills from that time on could be in the city of Charleston. Because huge pieces of timber were found three and four blocks away where the wind carried it. So, as I say, being interested in fireworks

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and the ban on the sale and discharge, I spoke at city council, having the principal, George Rogers, there and also the president of the parent teachers. Because of that law, the state—working on that law which was passed pertaining to our city—soon took it up. That was the first law that I know of that put a ban on the sale in cities of over 40,000. Just two or three years ago it was, I worked very hard again, and I sent up a delegation from the federation of women's clubs, to be present there to work and to speak and to show the folly of allowing fire works in even a little two by four town. A child that is blinded in the tiniest city loses the eye just as well as in the big city. I worked with Rep. Dangerfield—his name, I thought, was so appropriate—and with the chief one who sponsored it, a fireman, Fireman Mishoe. One of my biggest works was obtaining our county library, opened in the year 1930. That is called the Charleston County Library. You see, Charleston was a very literate city. And the museum and the College of Charleston and the library society (a membership library) were all organized about the same time, in the early 1770s. And there was a small library here in the early years. Whatever happened to it, I don't know. That small library, I understand was free. Its lifespan was short. We grew up having only the library society as our source for more books. Father was a great bibliophile. The number of books that papa would purchase! He felt it was the best investment for education that anybody could have. As a result, we do have sets of very valuable books. I wish father could have bought sets of time for me, because my days never had [unknown]

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48 hours. But anyway, the point is I felt the need of a free library. The Rosenwald Foundation had offered to Miss Iaura Bragg, then director of the Charleston museum, a sizeable fund. And Mrs. Clelia McGowan was deeply interested. The proposition was that if our legislators would pass a bill, then this Rosenwald Foundation would, for every $10,000 we would put up, put up twice as much. For the first two years. For instance, if our legislators would make, now what seems a relatively small appropriation of $10,000, they would put up $20,000. Well, for the first two years, you see that would have meant $60,000. For the third and fourth year, they would match it. Our legislators would put up $15,000 and they would put up $15,000. For the fifth year, they would put up a large fractional part. And do you know, our legislators turned it down. I was in New York at that time, sorry I couldn't plunge in. But upon my return every night I would go to bed thinking, the legislators are soon to begin another session. We've got to get that library. It happened to be "heart tag" day. And I was on the corner of Calhoun and King. Miss Mary Vardrine McBee, (later Dr. McBee) was in charge of "heart tag" day. You see, she was president of the Civic Club [unknown] during those years. She became president and was very fine; [unknown] she too was principal and everything else at Ashley Hall. I said to her at the close of the day, when we were all turning in our cash receipts for the heart tag day, "Miss McBee, we have to work on the legislators to get the library Bill introduced and passed! She said "It can't be done." I said "Come across the street to the lobby of the Francis Marion Hotel. I want to talk to you." We went together and she said to me "Miss Pollitzer, you don't understand. There are conditions that are insurmountable. We cannot do it." I said "Don't

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say that. I'm going to tell you something. I know that Sunday is a holy day with you." Her uncle somebody was a bishop. "I know that. Will you give up Friday afternoon, all of Saturday, all of Sunday and we'll get that library bill passed." She said "You just don't understand." "Will you give up that time?" "Yes." "I will go in your car. We will see the leading citizens and the legislative delegation of Charleston and we'll accomplish the library." She said "Well, if you think so." Now she was a person of indomitable will. She felt it couldn't be done. I felt it could be done. We went to the leading citizens. I first went to one whose opinion I valued very highly and I said "Among the legislators, whom should we see first? Make a list of the legislators, and one whom you feel we should see first of all. Make a list of the leading citizens whom we want to bring pressure to bear on this bill." I had that. There was Mr. Sam Rittenberg, a self educated man. Chairman of the delegation. He was self educated. I would say, rather, library educated. And he was all for it. Only sorry that the legislators had said they would not increase the budget. They were elected that year on no increase in the millage. But the increase needed was pitiably small. Next to nothing. All right. He told us whom to see. One of the men was Mr. Haselden, who was a trustee of our schools. Miss McBee said "No use to see Mr. Haselden He won't see a person." I said "He'll see me." I phoned to him. I said "Mr. Haselden, you may know me as one of your teachers. I am coming to see you. I know you won't see anybody. I will stand on your doorsill. And standing on your doorsill, in a minute or two I can tell you the advantage to Charleston county to work for getting that library bill passed." He said "Come." I knew he'd see me.

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I stood on his doorsill. "Take a chair." "No, I told you I'd stand on your doorsill." He laughed. I took the chair. And I showed him how much money would come into Charleston county. The Rosenwald Foundation had said that if we did not pass it this being the second year, never would it be offered again.8 I saw, with Miss McBee each one of the delegation. We saw the prominent citizens to bring pressure to bear. I came home from school one day—it was in the days when women wore hats—I didn't even take off my hat. I went to the phone and I phoned to every service club. We had money in the Civic Club, collected from the year before when we had hoped to get the library. We had about $50 to spend for any purpose that would be good. So I phoned to each of the service clubs. I said "I know you are too busy to stop and send a telegram, but it must be sent immediately. Will you approve of this telegram?" And I directed one to the secreta of the delegation in the House and another to the Senate. I said "send two." And I just worded them ad lib. I said Charleston can no longer afford to be a city of its size without a free library, or something to that effect. When I say all the civic clubs, I had a list quickly prepared or I prepared it, of the various groups. Civitan, Kiwanis, etc., each one. I said "I'll attend to the payment of the telephone bill. All I want you to do is say ‘Okay, go ahead and send them.’ " The next morning the paper came out and said telegrams, urging that the library bill be passed, came in almost until midnight, even long after the bill had been passed. There was one legislator, who was kept home by his uncle, a doctor, because he had what was called a special kind of sore throat. I never heard of it. Angina sore throat. He was the only one who would not be in favor. I said "Good," to his doctor-uncle. "Keep him home. If he even gets better for

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one night, don't let him go. He's the only one who is opposed." In the meantime I had gone to see whoever he's called. The man who prepares the budget for the delegation. And I said "Insert this item of $10,000 which will be needed." I saw him insert it. And the amazing part, after the third reading, all successful, the item was not in the budget. One of the mysteries. I saw him insert it. And these mysteries, how they happened, I don't know. But it was omitted. The third reading had taken place successfully. And then we thought, now what. They had to do the whole works over again. In the meantime, the Angina sore throat legislator got well. Before he left, I phoned to him. I said "I know how firm you are. You are adamant against appropriating one penny for the county library. I know you all went in on no increase in the millage. But this will bring in so much money." He said "Miss Pollitzer, I will promise you one thing. I may not vote for it, but I will not work against it." I said "That's right." He sent me a telegram—what a beautiful thing to do. (I've turned all these things over to Miss Sanders, the head librarian.) He sent me a telegram to the effect of "Congratulations, the library bill passed. You won." Something like that. Anyway, it really was wonderful. Telegrams came in from Mr. Sam Rittenberg and we got the library. Now I would like to think of one thing more. Credit must be given to the delegation of citizens from Charleston. While I was home, getting all these telegrams sent, Miss McBee headed a delegation and several whom I had seen before went with her to be there during the voting. To watch out to see that everything went right. And the library bill was passed. I don't think anybody was ever happier. Mother always

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called it my library.[Interruption.] At first we were housed in the Charleston museum. Miss Laura M. Bragg, who was director then of the museum, also was librarian. We were crowded. In five years we moved to the beautiful Michael Jenkins house at the NE corner of Montague and Rutledge. And we were rather crowded but we functioned marvelously. In 1960 a new library had been built. It was amazing. People look at it and they think it might have cost $1 million and more dollars. It only cost about three quarters of a million. Very fine structure. You know where and what it is. I remained trustee until relatively a few years ago. Then, of course, I was elected honorary trustee. Because I was really trustee before there was a library. I wrote the story of the getting of the county library. This is in the library. That tells more than what I have just told you.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Your working to secure the vote in favor of the free library gave you valuable practice, I would imagine, in stumping for passage of the equal rights amendment.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Dear, I can't say there was anything connected with it at all. You see, it is Anita who has spent her entire life, we might say, working for, in later years, the equal rights amendment. Until, of course, she became not well enough to continue. But I have had, as you know, many interests. I cannot say they were directed directly to women in any way. I wanted the library for women, men and children.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I understand, but I'm saying the political experience you gained in working to get this measure passed you could certainly have put to use in the interest of getting suffrage passed.
MABEL POLLITZER:
The Susan B. Anthony Amendment was passed in 1920. I worked for that. The passage of the Library Bill came ten years later. Working for Suffrage helped politically with the Library Bill.

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MABEL POLLITZER:
I feel if you are built in a certain way and if a thing is right, you don't stop just because you see a stone in the pathway. If a thing is right, keep on. Don't let any little difficulty be an insurmountable object. Now the reason I was told it couldn't be passed was because it hadn't been passed the previous year and they had gone in on voting for no increase in millage. That's why we were so involved in getting the vote. But after all, you've got to have a logical mind. And if more money comes in to the county than what goes out of the county, why then that is good. Well, that's pretty much the story of the County Library.
You've asked me to tell you of the events [unknown] which led to the obtaining of the library and tell of the early years.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So you have documents really substantiating all of your civic work. In this civic work, you came into contact with a number of leading South Carolina politicians and Charleston political figures.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Some. I wouldn't say so many. When I felt the time was needed, then I would go to the very highest of whomever was needed. But in between times, I mean I just did the regular things in school, many cultural activities, household affairs, or whatever it might be. I'd like to say how we got this building at the corner of Rutledge and Montague. The number is 94 Rutledge - the first library building. It was a beautiful mansion. When the time came that we had to move, I thought right away of this beautiful residence. It had been my father's first home. Because you'll remember the gentleman who knew grandfather wanted father to live with him. I knew of the large grounds. It was then owned by Mr. Henry Ficken, who

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at that time was president of one of the banks. I went to Mr. Ficken and I said "Your house at 94 Rutledge has been on the market for sale for many years. It is not occupied. I want you to do something in memory of your very respected, very fine father, who was mayor of Charleston during certain years." He said "What do you want me to do?" "I want you to give that home, 94 Rutledge, as a library, to the library to the delegation of whomever you would give a home for the library." And he said "It would be a nice thing to do, wouldn't it?" I said "Yes, your father would be honored. I know you could do it." He said "You know, I want to sell that house for $75,000." Which was a fortune in those days, because this was before 1934. I said "But you haven't sold it." "Well, I'll think about it." The next year, before the taxes were due, I went to see Mr. Ficken again. "Mr. Ficken, you know, you've had a year to think about it. I'm hoping that you will, in memory of your father, give that building. We will call it the Ficken library." "I'm not so sure about it." Well, I felt like saying "Well, what are you going to do?" He said "I'm going to give a very fine, framed etching. I want to give that to the library." I said "Many a library can have art works. We want the building." "I'll think about it." It was on a busy school day and I got a telegram. Mr. Ficken was going to put that house at auction. I got a telegram from the Rev.—the name will come.9 St. Andrews Lutheran church. Oh, a dear gentleman. He was the first president of our library board. It was in about 1935. We were in the museum for five years, from 1930 to 1935. And then we were in this building, 94 Rutledge, from 1935 to 1960.

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CONSTANCE MYERS:
I thought that you were working for the free public library in about 1915.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Plant exchange in 1915. So this telegram came from this fine minister of the St. Andrews Lutheran Church. His name is Dr. Charles B. Foelsch. Lovely gentleman. Just lovely in every way. He was the first president of our library board. He was one who also helped. He went up to Columbia and helped with the delegation urging them—although as I say, they really, by that time, didn't need urging—but to see that they held true to their word that they would vote for it. We had quite a delegation going up to Columbia. I did not go. I stayed here and worked getting telegrams to bring pressure. But Dr. Foelsch was great. And he is living. An elderly gentleman now, with a church in New York. I hear of him from time to time. He wrote me a beautiful letter. I've turned that over, also, to the library. Now the point was, here I was and I wanted that building. And Mr. Ficken would not give it. But as I said, this telegram came from Dr. Foelsch, then spending a little time in Florida. He said "Miss Mabel, please go to the auction and bid in for 94 Rutledge. We must have that building." I had never been to an auction in my life. And I thought, how would I go about such a thing. Moreover, I was in school and I would never desert my duties and pleasures. I phoned to Mr. Homer Pace, grand gentleman. Oh, we had wonderful gentlemen on our board. He was the first vice president. I phoned to him and I said "Leave everything, Mr. Pace, if you can. Be present at the auction. Try not to exceed $10,000." That was what we had said we would spend if necessary. Mr. Ficken, the

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owner of the house, had told me he wouldn't take less than $18,000 and that was a gift of $57,000 because he wanted $75,000. He said he was giving it away. Mr. Pace represented Dr. Foelsch and me at the auction. The house wasn't sold. In a short time, Mr. Ficken wrote to Dr. Foelsch "You can have the house for $10,000." And the paving costs of $1,000. Dr. Foelsch said accepted. But we never called it the Ficken library. He gave a picture, instead. The point is, we got it. We were there, as I say, from 1935 to 1960 when we moved into this new building. We planned beautifully. Of course we looked at every detail. We really wanted to have it, of course, one story, but it could not be. So it is a two story building. But capable of enlargement if need be. Wonderful children's room. I said name it after our fine friend, John Bennett; it was really very great that we could have this children's room.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I can see from your activities in the community that you are a civic minded person who is interested in bettering her environment and I'm sure that your interest in women's rights fits into this general category of activity, too.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Definitely. I feel I am what I am because, not only of my forbears, who were very civic minded . . . Grandfather in Beaufort did wonderful things. My grandfather Guinzburg died before I was born and I do not know a great deal of him except as I said, writer, scholar and author and rabbi. And the wonderful part, he was a pioneer in having less conservative Judaism and having reform Judaism. That was grandfather and he really was a pioneer in that long before

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there was Isaac M. Wise. They corresponded later on. But anyway, I feel I am as I am pretty much because of father, who pointed the way to doing everything that was good for the community. Father had the biggest offers to locate in other large cities.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But as far as active women were concerned, you really had no role model did you? Your role model was your father. You had no woman active in the community active—
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Tell about your trusteeships in the city of Charleston.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Well, it was before 1930. The museum had a campaign for membership. I was asked to serve, which of course I gladly did. Because our museum being the very oldest museum in the country is well known, even abroad. I did get so many memberships that at the next meeting one of the gentlemen proposed that I should be a member of the board of trustees, which I gladly accepted if I could help in any way. It was the following year that they then appointed me secretary to the board of trustees. I served not only as trustee but as secretary to the board of trustees until about 1964. I think it was the longest secretaryship in the history of the museum. And I'm happy to say that except for illness on one occasion—it wasn't I who was ill, but a member of the family—I didn't miss a meeting. As such, it gave me an opportunity to write letters of thanks and appreciation to the many worthwhile men and women who gave gifts to the museum. Archer M. Huntington and his wife. Mr. Huntington gave Brookgreen Gardens to the state. I remember the beautiful letter I had from him. All of these things, of course, I've

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turned over to the museum. And it was great. It really was very great. I worked to get the planetarium; it was a wonderful thing for the South to have such a planetarium as we have in the museum. I worked on all occasions. Well, the point was that was one of the trustees. A meeting of the trustees of our congregation10, Beth Elohim, followed very soon. And I was appointed a woman trustee.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was this an unusual appointment?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Yes. That was in the very early days. I do not know whether I was the first woman. But I was among the first. I may have been the first. I don't know. And I was trustee, for five years, of our congregation.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Have Carrie and Anita been active in synagogue work?
MABEL POLLITZER:
Yes. Carrie was a teacher in one of the classes for many years. A very fine teacher, having had kindergarten and so forth as a background. And loved teaching. Anita did excellent work, too, in our Sunday school, Sabbath school. Anita, right after college, became head instructor of art at the University of Virginia. And then the following year . . . in fact before the following year, she joined the national woman's party. And they recognized that she was outstanding in every way. She has hardly been in Charleston since 191611 except for 6 months and visits. But Anita had a wonderful Sunday school class that she taught. She was then in High and Normal School. Many of our leading citizens here look upon it with joy and appreciation if they had Anita as a Sunday school teacher. She did all of her teaching in a very original way. Again, to inspire, we might say, not only the pupils but to get them to have enough interest that they would want

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to know more. And that's the thing. Now, my other trusteeship . . . I've mentioned the library, the museum, and the congregation. Those were the three trusteeships. Of course I've held offices in different clubs. But I never wanted myself to be overburdened with being president of this and that.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But you have certainly been active in many, many different kinds of organizations.
MABEL POLLITZER:
Many fields. They wanted me, of course, to be president of the Civic Club of Charleston. That, at that time, was such an enormous undertaking because it had so many different branches. You see, the Civic Club, in the earliest days, wanted a library. And that was why, when Miss McBee was president of the Civic Club, they really wanted a library. I don't want to disperage anything that very wonderful Dr. McBee did. But she just felt because the legislators said it couldn't be done that it couldn't be done. But I felt I wanted to point the way.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you hold office in the women's party before the 19th Amendment was passed?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I never held office before the suffrage amendment was passed, no. I guess I could say I did hold office because I was press chairman for a long while. I wrote to Sen. Pollock.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
As press chairman did you write to Sen. Tillman?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I do not remember I ever wrote to him.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you have letters from both of them?
MABEL POLLITZER:
I know I had letters from Sen. Pollock.

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CONSTANCE MYERS:
That's it. The Charleston Museum and the Charleston—
MABEL POLLITZER:
I have told the highlights of these things. And of course telling this story to you is really very interesting. The getting of the library. Extremely interesting throughout the years. The tremendous expansion. Instead now of working for five years on the sum of $30,000 for each of the five years. That was all it was. $30,000 for each of the five years. The number is now perfectly tremendous. On the payroll. Numbers of branches, numbers of workers at each branch, another book mobile we're getting now. I just got a letter. I get all the information, of course, as honorary trustee. And I did attend a meeting not long ago. Miss Emily Sanders wrote me the most beautiful letter of appreciation and that the board members were happy to have me present and so forth. The Cooper River Library. The Cooper River Memorial. That is now having an addition. It's one thing after another. The West Ashley had a large addition to the library. And the growth of it, starting from humble beginnings in the small place that was given to us by the Charleston museum. And the funny part, the museum trustees wanted us to get out. And here I was, trustee of the library and trustee and secretary of the museum. I would explain to them, we wanted to get out too, but we have to have a building. That was why then I worked so hard to get the 94 Rutledge house, which Mr. Ficken was unseccessful in selling until he finally turned it over to us. Oh, this is rather interesting. Before I thought that we would purchase it, I went to the office of Mr. Albert Simons. A truly great architect. Lover of Charleston. One of the writers of the octagon library of architecture. It's like saying the Bible of architecture. I said "Mr. Simons, come with me. We do

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not want to make a mistake. Because this building is valuable, we don't want to have the weight of maybe tons of books collapse if the beams are not strong, if it would not be suitable." So he and I and Dr. Foelsch went through and we didn't tell our secret to anybody, because we didn't want anybody to outbid us if it had to be bought, by auction or otherwise. We didn't want anybody to know that the library board of trustees was thinking of buying that building. The price might have been raised up and up and up. Albert Simons said instead of just the wooden beams we would also have steel supports between the stories. And he said it would be perfectly safe to use that beautiful building. And there were really not so many changes. Just mostly in the first room as you enter.
The great thing was when we opened at the Charleston museum, and then we opened again at 94 Rutledge. And it was even a greater day when we opened at King and Calhoun.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I thank you for your recollections.
MABEL POLLITZER:
My recollections also include that I was present at each one of the openings of the branch libraries. And I remember so well getting a photograph. It was at Mt. Pleasant. Nobody thought of having a photographer there. One of our trustees lived on Mt. Pleasant. I said to him "May I use your phone. I have an idea." So I phoned to Mr. Howard Jacobs, photographer in Charleston. "Mr. Jacobs, please leave everything. Get over to Mt. Pleasant." I told him where we would meet him to take him to the library. I wanted him there to record by photograph the exercises of the dedication of the Mt. Pleasant library. And he got there in time. It was wonderful and I was so happy. Because somebody said, if you have an idea, don't let it die, if it's a good idea.

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Well, with each of the openings of each one of our branches—and we have many—I was very happy to be present at all of them. Even just a very few years ago at the West Ashley branch.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. Carrie Teller Pollitzer.
2. Grandfather Guinzburg was elected by Harvard University as professor of Semitic languages. He could read fourteen languages. Shortly before filling the chair, he passed away.
3. By one or more of the Federated Clubs. (I was asked, and so was my sister Carrie by the Council of Jewish Women, and was asked also by Hadassah.)
4. Was chair of science department, president of our high school teachers, and was president of the Charleston County Teachers Association.
5. Plants were exchanged, after the first year, in the Negro and white school.
6. Some wanted suffrage to come state by state, and not by the federal amendment.
7. U. S. Senator William Pollock of Cheraw, South Carolina.
8. In 1924 the South Carolina delegation had rejected the generous Rosenwall offer; in 1930 through intensive work, the bill was passed.
9. Dr. Charles B. Foelsch.
10. Beth Elohim means "The House of God."
11. When she graduated from Columbas University.