Skip to main content

Pearl Anderson Wanamaker collection

Identifier: TCCA-005

Scope and Contents

This collection holds materials relating to the professional life and accomplishments of Washington state educator Pearl Anderson Wanamaker. Materials include photographs, diplomas and honorary degrees, academic robes, and commencement ephemera. Please note that this collection has been renumbered from M-001 to TCCA-005.


  • 1922-1996


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on these materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Use is governed by Tacoma Community College's Creative Commons Copyright policy requiring attribution and share-alike intentions.

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.

Source and more information:

Wanamaker, Pearl Anderson (1899-1984) on


1.5 Linear Feet (3 flat oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Judge Jim Wanamaker, Pearl Wanamaker's son, 1996.


The Tacoma Community College will retain all Pearl Anderson Wanamaker materials in their entirety. Mixed materials and artifacts in the collection capture specific elements of the early campus life and culture of students, staff, and faculty at Tacoma Community College during this time period.


No accruals anticipated.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some materials from this collection have been digitized and are available on the TCC Digital Collections site: Pearl Anderson Wanamaker collection.

Related Materials

The TCC Archives' Special Collections Library contains several issues of The Challenge with stories on the opening of the library and its dedication to Wanamaker, along with a discussion of her career and work. For more information on this collection, see the finding aid and/or view the issues on the TCC Digital Collections site.
The TCC Digital Collections site includes a Pearl Anderson Wanamaker digital exhibit featuring materials from the TCC Archives.

The University of Washington Libraries' Special Collections holds:

  • The Pearl Wanamaker papers
  • Pearl A. Wanamaker : Washington education's gallant lady, 1984 thesis by David N. Ensberg on Pearl Wanamaker's professional career
  • - The Anderson-Wanamaker family papers
  • Title
    Guide to the Pearl Anderson Wanamaker Collection
    Tacoma Community College Archives
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard, 2nd Edition
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Language of description note
    Finding aid written in English.
    Edition statement
    Finding aid corrected, updated, and revised by Archivist M. Offtermatt (1/2020); latest revision by A. Demeter (7/2023).

    Repository Details

    Part of the Tacoma Community College Archives Repository

    6501 S 19th St
    Tacoma WA 98466 USA