|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series: Series I: Justine Wise Polier papers.
Legal briefs, opinions, depositions, notes, memoranda, correspondence, and miscellaneous printed material of Polier. The materials are primarily photocopies of court documents which Polier assembled in the course of monitoring legal precedents for the Children's Defense Fund and the Field Foundation. Among the topics covered in the files are abortion, discrimination, education, foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, and parental rights.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Justine Wise Polier papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Additional Juliet Wise Polier can be found in the following collections: Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs records, 1914-1996, Charles W. Poletti papers, 1920-1991 (MS#1013), Gerald E. Markowitz and David Rosner Papers, 1923-1999 (MS#1615), Herbert H. Lehman Papers, 1878-2002 (MS#0763), School of Social Work Records, 1898-circa 2000s (UA#0099), and Wiltwyck School for Boys records, 1942-1981 (MS#1418).
Type of reproduction--Photocopies
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 08/--/1989.
2020-04-10 PDF replaced with full finding aid (JR)
History / Biographical Note
Justice in the Domestic Relations Court of New York City, 1934-1962, Judge of the New York State Family Court, 1962-1973. Polier was affiliated with the Children's Defense Fund and the Field Foundation (Barnard A.B., 1924).
Justine Wise Polier (1903-1987) was born in Portland, Oregon to Louise Waterman Wise, founder of the Free Synagogue Child Adoption Committee (1916) and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, a leading Jewish communal figure and founding member of both the NAACP (1914) and the American Jewish Congress (1918). She attended Bryn Mawr College from 1920-1922 and Radcliffe College from 1922-1923, before finally completing her BA at Barnard College in 1924. She then attended Yale Law School and received her degree in 1928.
From 1929-1934, Wise Polier worked for the Workmen's Compensation Counsel, and in 1935, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed her judge in the Domestic Relations Court (now known as the New York State Family Court). At this time, Justine Wise Polier, only 32 years old, was the first woman to hold a judgeship in New York--in fact, the ﬁrst woman in New York State to hold judicial ofﬁce above magistrate--a position which she maintained for 38 years.
For more than 30 years she was president of Louise Wise Services, the adoption agency founded by her mother which became a voluntary agency serving children and families. She was also vice president of the Citizens Committee for Children, founder and president of the Wiltwyck School for Boys -- the first nonsectarian and interracial agency that cared for and educated neglected and troubled youth in New York--, board member and later president of the Field Foundation and a member of the Institute of judicial Administration of the American Bar Association. After she retired, she headed the office of juvenile justice of the Children's Defense Fund. The distinguished jurist and activist for children's rights and civil liberties died in 1987.
In 1989 Columbia University established the annual Justine Wise Polier Memorial Lecture. Each year the lecture, sponsored by the School of Social Work, the Law School and the psychiatry department's division of child psychiatry, was given by a distinguished expert in law, child advocacy or mental health.