Anita Pollitzer

Black and white photograph of Anita Pollitzer

Anita Pollitzer. Ca.1916-1923. Image courtesy of Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress.

(1894-1975) Anita Lily Pollitzer was born in Charleston to Gustave M. Pollitzer and Clara Guinzburg. She graduated from Memminger Normal School in Charleston in 1913, earned her B.S. in fine arts from Columbia University in 1916, and received her master’s in international relations from Columbia in 1933. While a student at Columbia, she met Alfred Stieglitz, who became her “mentor in modernism.” It was Pollitzer who showed him drawings by a young, unknown artist named Georgia O’Keeffe. Stieglitz consequently organized an exhibition of O’Keeffe’s works, sparking her successful career as an artist. As a student, Anita became involved in the radical wing of the women’s movement. Beginning in 1918 she held numerous National Woman’s Party offices, including national chair from 1945 to 1949. She represented South Carolina at the International Feminists Conference at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1926 and the NWP at the first session of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945. According to her nephew, Anita had dinner with Representative Harry Burn on the eve of Tennessee’s crucial vote on the Nineteenth Amendment (which granted women the right to vote) and convinced him to support the measure. From suffrage she turned to other women’s issues, including the right of married women to keep their U.S. citizenship and their government jobs and for gender equity in the National Fair Labor Standards Act. She fought tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment.