Texas Originals, a co-production with Humanities Texas

Texas Originals: Annie Webb Blanton

Annie Webb Blanton faculty portrait from North Texas State Normal College. Original: faculty, 1905. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed September 12, 2013.
A trailblazing professional educator and the first women in Texas to hold statewide elected office.

 

ANNIE WEBB BLANTON
(August 19,
1870–October 2, 1945)

 

As a public official, suffragist, and educator, Annie Webb Blanton devoted her life to women’s rights. “Everything that helps to wear away age-old prejudices,” she said, “contributes towards the advancement of women and of humanity.”

Born in Houston in 1870, Blanton pursued a career in teaching to demonstrate her independence. After graduating from The University of Texas in 1899, she worked at Denton’s North Texas State Normal College, now the University of North Texas. There she took an interest in the challenges facing women educators and joined the suffrage movement. Blanton believed that women working together for change were more effective than those struggling alone.

In 1918, Blanton was elected State Superintendent for Public Instruction, becoming the first woman in Texas to hold a statewide elected office. She pursued a vigorous agenda of increasing teacher pay, improving rural schools, and standardizing instruction.

After two terms, Blanton became a professor at The University of Texas, where she spent the rest of her professional life. In 1929, she and several colleagues founded Delta Kappa Gamma, a society for women educators. Starting in Austin, the organization quickly expanded throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Blanton died in 1945, but her legacy lives on in the equal opportunities enjoyed by Texas women and the model she set for those who followed her into public service.

Annie Webb Blanton and two other women
Annie Webb Blanton (First woman on the right) and two other women. Photograph by Neal Douglass.  January 29, 1941; digital image, (accessed September 12, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

 

For more about Annie Webb Blanton

Blanton’s organization of women educators continues to grow and prosper, acting as an educational advocate and source of solidarity for women in the field. Chapters are active throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Delta Kappa Gamma’s alpha chapter in Austin continues to honor Blanton’s memory. 

In March 2013, the Denton Independent School District dedicated a historical marker to Blanton outside the new Argyle, Texas, school named in her honor.  This is one of many schools across the state named to commemorate her commitment to education.

 

Selected Bibliography

Cottrell, Debbie Mauldin. “Blanton, Annie Webb.” Handbook of Texas Online.

Cottrell, Debbie Mauldin. Pioneer Woman Educator: The Progressive Spirit of Annie Webb Blanton. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993.

McArthur, Judith N. Creating the New Woman: The Rise of Southern Women’s Progressive Culture in Texas, 1893–1918. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

Parker, Clara. Annie Webb Blanton:  Founder, The Delta Kappa Gamma Society. Whitefish, MT: Keppinger Publishing, 2007 [1949].