Annie Webb Blanton got her education career off to an early start, taking a job as a teacher in a one-room rural schoolhouse as soon as she graduated from high school at the age of seventeen.
While earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, she continued to support herself by teaching elementary and high school, scheduling her college courses during the summers while school was out.
From 1901 to 1918, she taught English at North Texas State Normal College, an institution you may be more familiar with under its current name, the University of North Texas. Her no-nonsense textbook Review Outline and Exercises in English Grammar was adopted in classes across the country.
Blanton became active in the Texas State Teachers Association, and in 1916 she was elected its first female president.
With the help of fellow suffragists, who in 1918 had won the right to vote in Texas primaries, she ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction (forerunner of the current Texas Education Agency), defeated the incumbent by a large majority, and thus became the first woman in Texas elected to a statewide office.
These are just a few of her myriad accomplishments as Superintendent:
- Instituted a system of free textbooks
- Revised teacher certification standards
- Raised teacher salaries
- Improved rural education
- Promoted equality for women teachers
In 1920 she campaigned vigorously for the Better Schools Amendment, which amended the Texas Constitution to remove limitations on tax rates allowable by local school districts for support of their public schools, thereby reducing the state’s burden of the costs of public education.
After an unsuccessful run for Congress, Blanton earned a master’s degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1923, then continued at UT as a member of the faculty. In 1926 she took a brief leave of absence to earn a PhD at Cornell, then returned to UT-Austin in 1927. In 1929 she founded the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International to promote the professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. Blanton remained a member of the faculty at UT-Austin until her death in 1945.
Would you like to know more?
- Read more about Blanton’s extraordinary life in Pioneer Woman Educator: The Progressive Spirit of Annie Webb Blanton, by Debbie Mauldin Cottrell: https://discover.library.unt.edu/catalog/b2267747
- Read some of the works authored by Annie Webb Blanton: https://bit.ly/3kILhbB (This might be the perfect opportunity to review the basics of English grammar in case you’ve forgotten!)
- Explore thousands of photos, letters, and other documents pertaining to Annie Webb Blanton in the Portal to Texas History: https://bit.ly/3uQiSFp
“Everything that helps to wear away age-old prejudices contributes towards the advancement of women and of humanity.”
—Annie Webb Blanton
Article by Bobby Griffith.
Photo of Annie Webb Blanton circa 1900 – Collections, Special , Michelle Dotts, and Clio Admin. “Annie Webb Blanton Historical Marker.” Clio: Your Guide to History. December 19, 2016. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.theclio.com/entry/28674
Campaign material – “Concerning the Race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction” Circa 1917-1918, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Flyer – “Vote For Annie Webb Blanton for State Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Circa 1917-1918, AF – Biography – Blanton, Annie Webb, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
“Annie Webb Blanton,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Annie_Webb_Blanton&oldid=995327040 (accessed March 25, 2021).
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Blanton, Annie Webb,” Handbook of Texas Online, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/blanton-annie-webb
(accessed March 25, 2021). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
“Emancipation and Participation: Early Office Holders,” Austin History Center, https://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/emancipation-and-participation-early-office-holders-54447 (accessed march 25, 2021).
“Texas Originals: Annie Webb Blanton,” Humanities Texas, https://www.humanitiestexas.org/programs/tx-originals/list/annie-webb-blanton.
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