Guide to the Pollock Family Papers, 1914-2010

Rauh Jewish Archives

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Pollock Family Papers
Melvin Pollock
Collection Number
MSS 1031
Date [inclusive]
1 linear foot (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Samuel and Lena Hollander Pollock opened Pollock’s Department Store in Gallitzin, Pa., in 1914. The store was well connected with the wholesalers of Altoona and Pittsburgh and remained in business for almost fifty years. Their son, Melvin Pollock, took over the family business in the 1940s before opening his own business in the Miracle Mile center of Monroeville. Melvin and his wife, Beverly King Pollock, became active in the Pittsburgh AIDS community after the deaths of their sons, Robert and Larry, in the early nineties. The Pollock Family papers comprise ledgers, articles, clippings, speeches and awards relating to Pollock’s Department Store, Melvin’s business in Monroeville, Beverly’s career as a writer and the couple’s work in the AIDS community.

Preferred Citation

Pollock Family Papers, 1914-2010, MSS 1031, Rauh Jewish Archives, Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

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Melvin “Mel” Pollock was born on March 23, 1918 to Samuel and Lena Hollander Pollock of Gallitzin, Pa. An older son, Arthur, was born in 1915. Samuel (1885-1948) had emigrated from Czerniawczyce, Poland in 1907. Lena (1888-1943), a Lithuanian whose family had lived in Holland, was born in Leeds, England. She immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1896.

Samuel worked in an umbrella factory and then as a bellhop before transitioning to sales in Irvona, Pa. As a salesman he frequented Jacob Berman Wholesalers, located in Altoona, Pa., where Lena Hollander worked as a bookkeeper. They were married in 1914. Shortly thereafter the couple opened Pollock’s Department Store in Gallitzin, Pa., using two hundred dollars in savings and a five hundred dollar line of credit from Jacob Berman.

In addition to using the Altoona wholesalers, Samuel Pollock made regular Sunday buying trips to the Pittsburgh where he bought the bulk of the stock for the store from wholesalers on Fifth and Penn Avenues, as well as kosher meats and groceries for the family. Melvin accompanied Samuel on many of his trips to the Avenue and recalls a “family atmosphere” between the buyers and sellers. The Pollocks maintained a close relationship with many of the Fifth Avenue wholesalers in Pittsburgh for several decades. The store remained open for more than forty years.

Melvin returned to Gallitzin after serving as a technical sergeant in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He took over as manager of the store before Samuel’s death in 1948. In 1954, Melvin left the business to open Young Fashions, a children’s store located in the Monroeville Miracle Mile shopping center. He sold Pollock’s Department Store around 1960. With his wife Beverly King Pollock, whom he married in 1944, he was well-known within the local community. In 1967, Beverly created “Quoth the Maven,” a popular national column for the Jewish Chronicle, wrote plays, and later served as Director of Communications for the United Jewish Federation until 1989. Melvin served as president of the Monroeville Businessmen’s Association and the Monroeville Arts Council. He retired in 1983. Both were charter members of Temple David in Monroeville. They had four children, Larry, Robert, Susan, and Sally.

Melvin and Beverly Pollock lost their sons to AIDS in the early nineties; Robert in 1991 and Larry in 1995. They were among the first Jewish AIDS activists in the greater Pittsburgh community. Through print and speaking engagements, Melvin and Beverly worked to dispel myths about the disease and to share their experiences as parents of AIDS victims. The couple founded “Jews with AIDS in the Family” with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in 1991. They also volunteered with the Shepherd Wellness Community, the only AIDS support center in Western Pennsylvania. The organization presented them with a Distinguished Service Award in 2005. In 2008, Beverly was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in the Pittsburgh AIDS community. >

Beverly Pollock relocated to Tucson, Arizona, to be near her daughter Sally , in 2012, after Melvin’s death on October 8, 2008.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Pollock Family papers comprise two boxes and one folder of oversize materials. The collection is arranged in four series. Series I contains ledgers, clippings and other papers relating to Pollock’s Department Store. Materials include a contract between Sam Pollock and the local charter of the United Store Workers, and the 1937 sale receipt for Pollock’s Department Store at 600 Main Street in Gallitzin, Pa. Also included is a photograph of Pollock family members and store workers in front of the Pollock’s Department Store front.

Series II comprises photographs, clippings, year books and correspondence representing the professional and personal lives of Pollock family members. Materials include the 1914 marriage certificate of Samuel and Lena and the papers of Melvin and Beverly. The bulk of the series covers the professional life of Melvin Pollock, including service in the U. S. Army during World War II, his clothing stores in Monroeville, and his post-career interests in acting, painting and teaching. Also included are his 2007 oral history and a memoir he composed in 2011. The series also contains clippings and correspondence relating to the career of Beverly King Pollock, and a script of her 2011 play, Looking for Magic, about families affected by AIDS.

Series III contains clippings, correspondence, and publications covering the work of Melvin and Beverly Pollock in the AIDS community of greater Pittsburgh. Included in the series are transcripts of talks they composed for numerous events in the Jewish community promoting AIDS awareness and healing. One shelf volume comprises a scrapbook created by Beverly King Pollock for the Jews with AIDS in the Family organization. The scrapbook contains clippings, organizational newsletters, and correspondence. Restrictions have been placed on the use of this volume.

Series IV contains one folder of oversize materials. Included are a photograph of the Pollock family before the Pollock’s Department Store front, a 1946 photograph of Gallitzin WWII veterans, a yahrzeit plaque for Lena Hollander’s parents Sarah and Jacob, a poster for Beverly Pollock’s play It’s Business, a 1991 article on Beverly Pollock, and Melvin Pollock’s 1936 diploma from Gallitzin High School.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Rauh Jewish Archives Senator John Heinz History Center Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania , August 2014

Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Restrictions on Access

Shelf Volume 1 of Series III, Jews with AIDS in the Family Scrapbook, 1992-1997, is restricted. The remainder of Series III is open to research. Researchers may only access Shelf Volume 1 after signing an agreement not to disclose names or other confidential information in the volume. Researchers may not make copies of any of the materials in the volume.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

The materials were received in three accessions and combined into one body of papers.

Gift of Melvin Pollock on July 20, 2006.

Gift of Beverly Pollock on March 28, 2011 and June 26, 2014.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Carly Lough in May 2014.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials

Transferred to the print collection:

The Aurora, Gallitzin High School yearbook, 1927 Centennial Celebration: 1873-1973, Gallitzin, Pa., 1973 Gallitzin Memorial: World War II, Homecoming Committee, 1946

Transferred to the Museum:

Cash drawer from Pollock’s Department Store, Gallitzin, Pa.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Pollock's Department Store (Gallitzin, Pa.)
  • Young Fashions (Monroeville, Pa.)
  • Jews with AIDS in the Family
  • Shepherd Wellness Community (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pennsylvania (Pa.)
  • Gallitzin (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Pollock Family
  • Pollock, Melvin (1918-2008)
  • Pollock, Beverly King


  • AIDS activists
  • Jews -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Jewish Women -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Jewish businesses -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Jewish businesses -- Pennsylvania -- Gallitzin
  • Department stores

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Collection Inventory

Series I.  Pollock's Department Store 1914-1952 

Pollock's Department Store 1914-1952 11

Section: Ledgers 

Sales 1914-1923 2
Accounts 1918-1924 3

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Series II.  Pollock Family 1914-1980 

Photographs, S. S. Servia and S. S. Piza no date 4
Samuel and Lena Hollander Pollock marriage certificate 1914 5
Pollock Family reunion invitation 1980 6

Section: Melvin Pollock 

U. S. Army discharge papers 1946 7
"Young Fashions" articles 1983-1995 8
Clippings, miscellaneous 1967-2009 9
Clippings, art and teaching 1989-2006 10
Legends in Leadership award 1996-1998 11
Oral history transcription 2007 12
Memoirs 2001 21

Section: Beverly Pollock 

"Quoth the Maven" articles and correspondence 1971-1975 2
Articles and awards 1973-2001 3
Garden Club of Allegheny County 1973-2011 4
United Jewish Federation commercials and correspondence 1974-1975 5
 1971-1975 6
Clippings, miscellaneous 1966-2012 7

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Series III.  AIDS Community 1966-2010 

AIDS Talks 1979-2003 8
Condolence and thank you letters 1966-2010 9
Clippings, miscellaneous 1992-2003 10
AIDS Jewish community 1992-1996 11
AIDS Cleveland 1999 12
AIDS New York 1995 13
AIDS Publications c1995-2000 14

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Section: Shelf Volume 1:  

Jews with AIDS in the Family scrapbook 1992-1997 

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Section: Oversize Materials 

Pollock family 1936-2008 1

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