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Polaire: Topics in Chronicling America

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.

Introduction

Polaire with her pet pig, Mimi. June 29, 1913. The Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA), Image 7. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“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.

Timeline

December 1899 Polaire performs in the Parc Morceau—while sleepwalking.
1909 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.
August 1913 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.
1916 Polaire aids the war relief effort by knitting socks for wounded soldiers.