Woman of the Century/Louise Pollock
POLLOCK, Mrs. Louise, pioneer kindergartner, born in Erfurt, Prussia, 29th October, 1832. LOUISE POLLOCK. Her father, Frederick Wilhelm Plessner, was an officer in the Prussian army. Retiring from active service and pensioned by Emperor Wilhelm, he devoted the rest of his life to literary labors. His history, German and French grammars, arithmetic and geometry were used as text-books in the Prussian military schools. He took special delight in directing the education of his youngest daughter, Louise, 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, Mass., whose wife she became about two years later in London. Even at that time she was interested in books treating of the subjects of infant training, hygiene and physiology. In 1850. with five children constituting their family, Mrs. Pollock was first made acquainted with the kindergarten philosophy, by receiving from her German relatives a copy of everything that had been published upon the subject up to that time. Her first work as an educator was in her own family. Her husband being overtaken by illness and financial reverses. Mrs. Pollock began to turn her ability to pecuniary account, and commenced her literary work in earnest. Executing a commission from Mr. Sharland. of Boston, she selected seventy songs from the German for which she wrote the words. Then she translated four medical works for Dio Lewis, and a number of historical stories, besides writing for several periodicals. In 1861 her "Child's Story Book" was published. Among the kindergarten works received from Germany was a copy of Lena Morgenstern's "Paradise of Childhood," which she translated in 1862 into English. Adopting the system in her own family, she became so enthusiastic on the subject 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 in West Newton, Mass., 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" in New York. Those were among the earliest contributions to kindergarten literature in this country. In 1874 Mrs. Pollock visited Berlin for the purpose of studying the kindergarten system in operation there. Upon her return to America in October, 1874, the family removed to the city of Washington, where her Le Droit Park Kindergarten was opened, and her series of lectures to mothers was commenced. Her sixty hygienic and fifty-six educational rules, which she wrote in connection with those lectures, were first published in the "New England Journal of Education." Other works from her pen are the " National Kindergarten Manual" (Boston. 1889), "National Kindergarten Songs and Plays" (Boston, 1880), and her latest song-book, "Cheerful Echoes" (Boston, 1888). She continues to write for educational papers. In 1880, through President Garfield, who was a patron of her daughter's school, she presented a memorial to Congress, asking an appropriation to found a free National Kindergarten Normal School in Washington. That was signed by all the chief educators of this country, but was unsuccessful. Nothing daunted, she presented another memorial to Congress the next year through Senator Harris, of Tennessee, and the succeeding year one by Senator Ingalls, of Kansas, but without success. Then she turned from Congress to providence, and with better success, for, after giving a very profitable entertainment on 12th February, 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. That list has had the names of all the Presidents with their cabinets, and the school has been maintained by subscriptions ever since. In connection with that kindergarten Mrs. Pollock has a nursery maids' training class in the care of young children. In Buffalo, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and other places, nursery maids' training schools have lately been opened upon somewhat the same plan. Mrs. Pollock is the principal, with her daughter, of the National Kindergarten and Kindergarten Normal Institute, for the training of teachers, over a hundred of whom are filling honorable positions throughout the country.