Dr. Simon Pollak: Early Jewish Pioneer Doctor of St. Louis, Missouri, 1840’s+

Dr. Simon Pollak

Dr. Simon Pollack

Dr. Simon Pollak

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Simon Pollak was born in 1814, in Tauss, Bohemia.

Pollak was educated in the classics at the University of Vienna.

In 1835, he earned his medical degree, at the age of 21.


Along the way . . . 

In 1838, Dr. Simon Pollak came to America.

Dr. Pollak began his career in New York, owning a mercantile firm that was not successful.

This prompted him to head for New Orleans to help people suffering from the yellow fever outbreak.


St. Louis

In 1845, Dr. Pollak moved to St. Louis, Missouri, becoming the second Jewish doctor in the city.

In 1849, a cholera epidemic allowed Dr. Pollak to use the skills he acquired in Europe during its cholera outbreak of the 1830s.

He returned briefly to Europe to study blindness.

In 1850, he came back to St. Louis and helped establish the Missouri Institute for the Education of the Blind.

The Institute was the first to adopt the Braille System in the United States.

Missouri Institute for the Blind, Vintage Postcard

Missouri Institute for the Blind, vintage postcard

During the late 1850s, Dr. Pollak returned to Europe, once again, to continue his studies as an oculist and an aorist.

In 1861, he founded and eye and ear hospital in New York.

Dr. Pollak later opened an eye and ear clinic in St. Louis.

During the Civil War, Dr. Pollak worked with other doctors to create the Western Sanitary Commission, which brought sanitary conditions, hospitals, and trained nurses to military camps.

The organization founded fifteen hospitals in St. Louis.

Dr. Pollak also championed a place for female doctors in the St. Louis medical community.



Dr. Pollak married Sallie Perry in 1873. Together they had two sons.


Dr. Simon Pollak died in 1903 in St. Louis.



  • Walter Ehrlich, Zion in the Valley: The Jewish Community of St. Louis, Volume 1 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997). In this book the doctor’s name is spelled Pollack.
  • Ellen Jane Freund Schwartz, Freund Family Chronicles (St. Louis, MO: 1992).

Samantha Silver is curator of this Dr. Simon Pollak exhibit.

Thanks to Mila Rechciglwe have corrected the doctor’s spelling of his last name from Pollack to Pollak, based on his autobiography: Biography and Reminiscences of S. Pollak, 1905.