Annie Fisher & Family

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Summary Information
Administrative Information
Collection Inventory
Series I: Fisher Records & Manuscripts

Summary Information

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
Annie Fisher & Family
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Cubic feet
Annie Fisher Biography Annie Fisher (1883-1968) devoted her life to public school education in Hartford, instituting many reforms at aiding immigrant children and those with special needs. Fisher came to America as a child with her family to escape the persecution of Jews in Russia. Intelligent and anxious to learn, Fisher received a scholarship to attend Wesleyan University during the university's early experiment with co-education. After graduation, Fisher returned to Hartford to teach. Initially, women were not well received at Wesleyan as either students or Alumnae. The women in Fisher's class were not invited to their reunions until the 50th reunion, and then only after a strongly critical letter from Fisher herself. Although a college graduate and better educated than the majority of teachers, Fisher had to start at the bottom of the scale, teaching adult evening English classes. She received her first full-time position at Barnard School only because she could speak the language of the large immigrant population. Realizing that students of vastly different ages were being put in class together without testing or special help, Fisher evaluated students and designed programs that fit their skills. To meet special needs, she created a work-study program, psychological testing, a pre-school, and had the school build showers for her new twice-weekly shower requirement. Students also received free dental care, free glasses, and daily cod liver oil. Fisher wrote two English textbooks for the foreign-born that were in use for many years. Acculturation was important to Fisher and she introduced Americanization classes, as well. Fisher became Hartford's first female district superintendent and first female principal, but sometimes had to suffer the prejudices of colleagues who didn't want to accept a female or a Jew in these positions. Gradually, however, she won the respect of her colleagues who saw value in her reforms. She also worked on gaining reforms in salary and pensions for both female teachers and teachers in general. When she retired in 1945, Fisher was held in great esteem and a Hartford elementary school was later named in her honor. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Fisher became Hartford’s first female district superintendent and first female principal. When she retired in 1945, she was recognized for her work in educational reform, in spite of the adversity she encountered as a female and a Jew. A Hartford elementary school was later named in her honor. Early Years: Fisher came to Hartford from Russia, arriving in Ellis Island in 1888 and moving to Hartford in 1891, to avoid having her brothers (five brothers, three sisters) drafted into the Czar’s army and to escape persecution as Jews. She graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1900 and got a scholarship to Wesleyan University in Middletown (class of 1904). Teaching Years: After graduation she was offered the position of and English Teacher in Hartford’s adult evening school and the following year appointed a teacher at The Henry Barnard School with a starting salary of $320 a year. She started classes for the foreign born, the first ability grouping of students, preschool programs for 4 year olds, a work-study program for students who learned best working with their hands, mental testing for children and twice a week showers. In 1912 she became the Head of the Special Child-Study Department (one of the early experiments with specialized education for academically slow and mentally challenged children. Superintendent: In 1923 she became the district superintendent and when it was consolidated, she became the Principal of Henry Barnard Junior High School in 1934. During this time she introduced her preschool programs to 4 year olds. Retired October 1, 1945. Extracirricular: President of Principals’ Club Organized Emanuel Synagogue Sisterhood-served as President President of Mental Hygiene Society for two years Co-chairman of the first drive for the War Relief during WWI First President of Young Women’s Association (the first rec center for young Jewish Women in Hartford) Headed Red Cross Center at Bernard Junior High School Headed rationing centers at Bernard during WWII On the Board of Directors for: North Street Settlement Hebrew’s Children Home Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YWHA) Council of Social Agencies United Jewish Charities Harford Fellowship Movement Awards: 1952 Woman of the Year Citation from B’nai Brith, Ararat Chapter 1962 Koppleman Award for Humanitarians 1963 City of Hartford names and dedicates a school in her honor 1964 Received Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from U. Hart. 1964 Received Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Hartford
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents note This collection contains materials documenting the life of Annie Fisher. Much of the collection focuses on awards, honors, and biographical information.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

333 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT, 06117

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Collection Inventory

Series I: Fisher Records & Manuscripts
Awards and Honors/Aetna Advertising, 1990
Awards and Honors/B'Nai Brith Americanism and Civics Awards, 1952
Awards and Honors/Emanuel Synagogue, various years
Awards and Honors/Hadassah Bus. & Professional "IMA" Award, 1962
Awards and Honors/Hartford Civic Orchestra Program, 1969
Awards and Honors/Hartford Public Schools -- naming of Annie Fisher School (1966)
Awards and Honors/Hartford Seminary Scholarship Fund, 1945
Awards and Honors/Kopplemann Award, 1962
Awards and Honors/Midrasha Scholarship Fund, 1969
Awards and Honors/University of Hartford Honorary Degree, 1964
Biographical/"Vision of a New Profession: Annie Fisher and Educational Reform" by
Andra Miriam Rose
Civic Activities
Correspondence/General, 1918-1969
Correspondence/Letters to Rose Kamins, 1937-1965
Educational Background
Essay for "This I Believe" Program, 1953
Professional Activities
Reminiscences of Annie Fisher by others
Retirement, 1945
Wesleyan University

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