Women of Valor


A Second Day

Justine Wise Polier, 1903 - 1987

"Asked how she could possibly have endured 36 years of witnessing day by day the tragedies of children, she answers, 'I tell myself each time that I am trying to do the best that can be done for this one child in front of me now. And then, starting after court, I try to do what I can for the others like him.'"

During what she called her "second day," Polier worked to broaden services to troubled children and their families with organizations like the Citizen's Committee for Children, the Field Foundation, Louise Wise Services, and the Wiltwyck School. "We hadn't gotten into the state that anybody who was a professional person had to be paid for lifting a pencil ...So, one lived two lives—one worked during the day at one's job, and then pitched into the things that seemed most important at night."

The "second day" also meant time for family. It was while pitching in at a night meeting that Justine met Shad Polier, a constitutional lawyer. He became her second husband in 1936 and father of her two younger children, Trudy and Jonathon. Justine and Shad also weathered the pain of losing a newborn son in 1944. "Considered one of New York City's most devoted couples," reported one newspaper, "after work they both rush home for an early dinner." The couple were "always working together on all sorts of issues, in addition to our life with our children."

  1. "Asked how she could possibly have..." quote from Mills 58.
  2. "We hadn't gotten into that state..." quote from Justine Wise Polier, "Woman Lawyer in the Depression: An Oral History," interview with Ann Fagan Ginger, The National Lawyers Guild Practitioner 39.4 (1982), Polier papers, box 1, folder 3, 126.
  3. "Considered one of New York's most..." quote from Betty Walker, "Why She Strives for Justice," Chicago Sun Times 11 Dec. 1950.
  4. "always working together on all sorts of issues..." quote from Polier, Oral History, Columbia University, 3.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Justine Wise Polier - A Second Day." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/polier/second-day>.