Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Louise Pollock 1832 ~

 

With all the time and attention now given to the study of psychology in America it is interesting to review the career and work of a pioneer in this line of work. Mrs. Pollock was born in Erfurt, Prussia, October 29, 1832. Her father, Frederick William Plessner, was an officer in the Prussian army, but retiring from active service was pensioned by the emperor and devoted the rest of his life to literary labors. He seems to have taken special delight in directing the education of this young daughter, who at an early age showed a marked preference for literary pursuits.

On her way to Paris, where she was sent at the age of sixteen to complete her knowledge of French, she made the acquaintance of George H. Pollock, of Boston, Massachusetts, whose wife she became about two years later in London. Her own five children started her interest in books treating of the subject of infant training, hygiene and physiology, and in 1859 she first became acquainted with the philosophy of the kindergarten by receiving from a German relative copies of everything that had been published upon the subject up to that time. Her first work as an educator was naturally enough in her own family, but her husband being overtaken by illness and financial reverses, Mrs. Pollock turned her ability to pecuniary account and began her literary work in earnest Executing a commission from Mr. Sharland, of Boston, she selected seventy songs from German melodies for which she wrote the words; then she translated four medical works, a number of historical stories, besides writing for several periodicals. In 1861 her "Child's Story Book" was published and among the kindergarten works which she received from Germany was a copy of Lena Morganstern's ''Paradise of Childhood," which she translated in 1862, into English. She had become so enthusiastic over adopting the kindergarten system in her own family that she sent her daughter Susan to Berlin, where she took the teacher's training in the kindergarten seminary there.

In 1862, upon the request of Nathaniel T. Allen, principal of the English and Classical School, of West Newton, Massachusetts. Mrs. Pollock opened a kindergarten in connection therewith, the first pure kindergarten in America. During 1863, she wrote four lengthy articles on the kindergarten, which were published in the Friend of Progress, New York, and were the earliest contributions to kindergarten literature in this country. In 1874, Mrs. Pollock visited Berlin for the purpose of studying the kindergarten system is operation there, and upon her return to America she moved her family to the City of Washington where her 'Ledroit Park Kindergarten" was opened, and her series of lectures to mothers was commenced. The sixty hygienic and fifty-six educational rules which she wrote in connection with those lectures were afterwards published in the New England Journal of Education, Other works from her pen are: "The National Kindergarten Manual,' "The National Kindergarten Songs and Plays" and her song book, "Cheerful Echoes." In 1880 through President Garfield, she presented a memorial to Congress, asking an appropriation to found a free national kindergarten normal school in Washington. But, although it was signed by all the chief educators of the country, it was unsuccessful.

Then she turned from Congress to Providence and with better success, for after giving a very profitable entertainment in 1883, the "Pensoara Free Kindergarten," with the motto, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these, ye have done it unto me,' was opened. In order to raise the necessary funds for its continuance a subscription list was started at the suggestion of Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, who during her life was a regular subscriber. In connection with that kindergarten, Mrs. Pollock had a training class for nursery maids in the care of young children, and in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and other places, nursery maids' training classes were soon opened upon the same plan. Mrs. Pollock with her daughter was for years at the head of the National Kindergarten, a kindergarten normal institute for the training of teachers, hundreds of whom went out to fill positions throughout the country.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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