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Wanamaker, Pearl Anderson, 1899-1984


Biographical Note

Pearl Anderson was born on January 18, 1899 on Camano Island, Washington. She attended the University of Washington and the Bellingham Normal School, obtaining her teaching degree from the former in 1922. During World War I, she taught and served as a principal at several island schools.

She married Lemuel Wanamaker in 1927. They had three children, Robert (1932), James (1933), and Joanna (1934).

In 1923, Wanamaker was elected Island County Superintendent of Schools, making her the youngest in comparable roles throughout the US. In 1928, she was elected as the House representative of the 38th District. After a brief pause, she served again in the House in 1932, where she supported the building of the Deception Pass Bridge. In 1936, she was appointed to the Senate after losing an election attempt that same year.

In 1940, she was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this role she pushed for the centralization and consolidation of school districts, reformed teaching certification requirements, the creation of community colleges, promoted special education, and pushed for federal education aid. In 1946 and 1950, Wanamaker was appointed by General MacArthur to a group that traveled to Japan to study the country's education system and make post-war recommendations for reorganization.

Wanamaker became a target for conservatives due to several actions over her career, most notably her reinstatement of Margaret Jean Schuddakopf to her job with Tacoma Schools after Schuddakopf elected to not respond to questioning by the House Un-American Activities Committee regarding her alleged involvement with the Communist party. In 1956, she lost her reelection bid to a conservative challenger.

After her sixteen years as Superintendent, Wanamaker continued to serve on numerous educational advisory groups both locally and across the country. According to a former Tacoma Community College faculty member, Wanamaker's stance on the Schuddakopf controversy and her support of the establishment of a community college in Tacoma led founding President Tom Ford to dedicate the college's library to Wanamaker. The dedication of the Pearl A. Wanamaker Library was held on December 7, 1966.

Wanamaker died in 1984.

See also M.008, TCC Biographical files.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Tacoma Community College Library records

Identifier: RG-10

The collection contains Tacoma Community College Library materials relating primarily to library functions and events, such as event dedications, renaming to the Learning Resource Center, and annual events.

Dates: 1965-2016

Pearl Anderson Wanamaker collection

Identifier: TCCA-005

This collection holds materials relating to the professional life and accomplishments of Pearl Anderson Wanamaker, including awards, academic robes, photographs and degrees.

Dates: 1922-1996