Polaire was a French performer, actress, and singer who proudly accepted the title of "Ugliest Woman in the World." This guide provides access to material related to "Polaire" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
“Polaire,” as she went by on stage, was a French actress and singer famously dubbed “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” Whether she was deserving of this title is debatable but Polaire assumed it proudly, considering beauty an obstacle to success and remarking that “to be the most perfect monster is as fine a perfection as any other.” She was also a highly fashionable trendsetter, spearheading new and unusual styles with her nose ring, bob-cut, feet bracelets, and record 14-inch corseted waist. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
Polaire performs in the Parc Morceau—while sleepwalking.
With corsets on the decline, America is shocked by Polaire’s impossibly small girth.
June 4, 1910
Polaire, “the ugliest woman in the world,” arrives in America and her seemingly contradictory title confuses reporters.
March 30, 1913
Polaire expresses the limitless fashion possibilities for feet.
A triple-feature combining Polaire, Lady Constance Stewart Richardson, and Gertrude Hoffman is planned.
October 5, 1913
Polaire explains why intelligent women should wear nose rings.
Polaire aids the war relief effort by knitting socks for wounded soldiers.