Helen Marot's Legacy

Born on June 9, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Helen Marot was the clandestine partner of C&C founder, Caroline Pratt. Helen grew up as part of Philadelphia's elite society, where she received a Quaker education at the Philadelphia Friends School. Helen also attended the the library class of the Philadelphia Drexel Institute, graduating with honors in June 1895. In June, 1897, Helen and two of her friends founded the Philadelphia Free Library of Economics and Political Science. Helen said that the library was based, “on the idea that freely offered opportunities for education in economics and political science make directly for a more intelligent public opinion and a higher citizenship”. The library’s philosophy was to offer literature related to economics and political science, conduct lectures, and supply local and foreign publications. The library was kept open in the evenings and on Sundays, this was considered rebellious at the time. Although the library’s name was reduced it remains open; now with 50 locations the library continues to uphold its mission. The same year Helen assembled her first book, A Handbook in Labor Literature. Helen went on to write a variety of reports, reviews and articles in periodicals, mostly regarding the labour movement and granting fair wages to librarians. While working as a librarian, Helen met Caroline Pratt and decided to move and live with her in Greenwich Village.

In the early 1920’s Helen gave up on activism after she was not seeing results for her attempts, Jordis said that she was, “burned out.” Helen went back to college to study phycology, and shortly after she wrote a book about her learnings. Her book was never published, but it was considered to be on the forefront of phycology. Her most famous patient was Jackson Pollock who she treated for many years until the time of her death. Helen met Jackson through Caroline because he was a janitor at the school during the depression. Jordis said that Helen was a mother figure to Jackson and “helped him deal with his inner demons.” Helen passed away in 1940, 14 years before Caroline and leaving behind Jackson, she was 74 years old.

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