Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973. Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Self-described woman pioneer in various causes

Pollitzer states that she first became involved in women's activism around 1912 when she joined the Charleston Civic Club. Pollitzer explains that this was just the first of numerous organizations and causes she joined. She describes her work in various civic, school, state, and national activities as "pioneering"—especially her work for women's suffrage with the National Woman's Party. Her use of the term "pioneer" is indicative of her perception that it was uncommon for women to become involved with multiple public causes during that time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mabel Pollitzer, September 19, 1973. Interview G-0047-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

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 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. * * Was Chairman of Science Department, President of our High School Teachers, and was President of the Charleston County Teachers Association. 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.