Kate Harrington



Born: Sep­tem­ber 20, 1831, Al­le­ghe­ny Ci­ty, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Died: May 29, 1917, Ft. Ma­di­son, Io­wa.

Buried: Farm­ing­ton Ce­me­te­ry, Farm­ing­ton, Io­wa.


Rebecca was the daugh­ter of Pro­fes­sor N. R. Smith, a play­wright and au­thor­i­ty on Shakes­peare, and wife of James Poll­ard.

A teach­er, writ­er and po­et, she spent her most pro­duc­tive years in Io­wa. She was the anon­y­mous au­thor of Em­ma Bart­lett, or Pre­ju­dice and Fa­na­ti­ci­sm, a fic­tion­al re­ply to Uncle Tom’s Ca­bin, in­tend­ed to ex­pose the hy­po­cr­isy of Know-Nothing­ism.

Pollard’s fa­mi­ly moved to Ohio, then Ken­tuc­ky, where she worked as a teach­er. Lat­er, she taught in Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois.

She lived in var­i­ous Io­wa ci­ties, in­clud­ing Farm­ing­ton, Keo­sau­qua, Bur­ling­ton, Ft. Ma­di­son and Ke­o­kuk.


She be­gan her writ­ing ca­reer with the Lou­is­ville Jour­nal, whose ed­it­or op­posed se­ces­sion and was an im­port­ant in­flu­ence in keep­ing Kentuc­ky in the Un­ion.

In her Let­ters from a Prair­ie Cot­tage, Pol­lard in­clud­ed a child­ren’s cor­ner with tales about tam­ing and rais­ing an­i­mals and of a cat who adopt­ed or­phan chicks. She al­so wrote child­ren’s books, in­clud­ing a prim­er and a spell­er.

Pollard’s work in the field of read­ing rep­re­sent­ed a pi­o­neer ef­fort to cre­ate a se­quen­tial read­ing pro­gram of in­ten­sive synt­he­tic phon­ics, created, comp­lete with a sep­a­rate teach­er’s man­u­al and spell­ing and read­ing books, and mov­ing in­to a broad based grad­ed ser­ies of li­ter­a­ture read­ers.

Her ser­ies is im­port­ant for its high cor­re­la­tion of spell­ing and read­ing in­struc­tion, for its con­cern for the in­ter­ests of child­ren, for its in­cor­po­ra­tion of mu­sic in­to the pro­cess of learn­ing to read, and as the fore­run­ner for oth­er phon­ics sys­tems. Her read­ers were used in ev­ery state in Am­er­i­ca, and were used in Ke­o­kuk, Io­wa, as late as 1937. Few wo­men have sin­gle-hand­ed­ly con­trib­ut­ed so much to the field of read­ing.

In 1869, Poll­ard pub­lished a book of po­ems titled May­mie, as a trib­ute to her ten year old daugh­ter who died that year. She fol­lowed up the next year with In Me­mor­i­am, May­mie, Ap­ril 6th, 1869, a med­i­ta­tion on death and suf­fer­ing.

Em­ma Bart­lett re­ceived mixed re­views when it was pub­lished in 1856. The Ohio States­man gave a ve­ry good re­view, but the Cin­cin­na­ti Times said, We have read this book. We pro­nounce the plot an ex­cel­lent one and the style charm­ing, but she has failed to ful­fill the in­tend­ed mis­sion of the book. It ac­cused her of al­so show­ing pre­ju­dice and fa­na­ti­cism ty­pi­cal of the pol­i­ti­cians she tried to de­fend.

In 1876, she pub­lished Cen­ten­ni­al, and Oth­er Po­ems to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­ni­ver­sa­ry of the Am­er­i­can De­cla­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, and the Cen­ten­nial Ex­po­si­tion in Phi­la­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia, the first of­fi­cial World’s Fair held in the Unit­ed States. The vol­ume in­clud­ed ma­ny po­ems about Io­wa, se­lect­ed po­ems of Pol­lard’s fa­ther, and il­lus­tra­tions of the Cen­ten­nial grounds in Phi­la­del­phia.

Pollard was 79 years old when she pro­duced the po­em, Al­thea or Morn­ing Gl­ory, which re­lates to Io­wa.



’Tis not death, but only gliding
Upward through the pearly gate,
Just to see that all is ready;
Just a little while to wait.
Just to fan the Eden bowers
With her new-tried angel wings,
And to sweep her snowy fingers
O’er her harp of golden strings.

’Tis not death, but only mingling
With those bright, angelic throngs,
That the blessed ones may teach her
All their grand, triumphant songs.
She will learn them of the angels;
She will know them when we come,
And, before we reach the portal,
We shall hear her, Welcome home!

’Tis not death, but only hastening
To the loved ones gone before,
Just to learn how love unmeasured
Shall be hers forevermore.
Just to feel her spirit folded
In a father’s warm embrace,
And to gaze, with joy and rapture,
On an angel sister’s face.

’Tis not death—the soul’s releasing—
Bursting of its prison bars—
Bounding back to God who gave it—
Mounting upward to the stars—
Is but life—’tis life eternal
Here to close the weary eyes
But to open them, with transport,
On the beams of Paradise.

’Tis not death: we have not lost her:
She has only gone before,
Just to hold a welcome ready
When we reach the shining shore.
Earthly ties are loosening round us,
Earthly hopes are laid aside;
Here in flesh, but there in spirit—
Heaven is home since Maymie died.

Rebecca Pollard (Kate Har­ring­ton)
In Me­mor­i­am. May­mie. April 6, 1869, 1870



Help Needed

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Pol­lard (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?