Dr. Annie Webb Blanton
Born August 19, 1870 Deceased October 2, 1945
Annie Webb Blanton and her twin sister Fannie were born August 19, 1870, in Houston, Texas. She had two other sisters and three brothers. "Annie began her formal education in a private school and had completed two years at Houston High School when her mother died." Her family then moved to LaGrange, Texas, where she completed high school. Her twin sister had died at the age of twelve. After graduation, she taught at a one-room county school in Pine Springs. When her father died a year later, she moved the family to Austin and taught in the elementary schools, and later at Austin High School, attending classes at the University of Texas evenings and vacations. "For five years she was enrolled as a Special Student without credit for the courses before she was permitted to enter the junior year as a regular candidate for a degree. She began her college training in 1890 and was graduated in 1899 with the degree of Bachelor of Literature." In 1901, Dr. Blanton began teaching English at North Texas State Normal School in Denton, where she taught for seventeen years.
In 1916, Annie Webb Blanton was the first woman to be elected president of the Texas State Teachers Association. While in office she was able to establish a fund for financing campaigns for securing more support for public schools. Her success as president led teachers to encourage her in a bid for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Her candidacy was sponsored by the Texas State Women Suffrage Association. In 1918, supported by the State Department of Education and numerous civic organizations, educators and legislators, she was the first woman elected to a public office in Texas. After four years in that office she ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Blanton obtained a Master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as an Adjunct Professor of School Administration for three years before going to Cornell University to pursue a doctorate in rural education and rural sociology. She returned to the University of Texas in 1927, and in 1933 was promoted to Professor of Rural Education -- the third woman to receive this rank at the university.
Annie Webb Blanton's wide circle of acquaintances, her organizational and leadership abilities, and her unflagging zeal led to the swift growth and expansion of the Delta Kappa Gamma after that first initiation on May 11, 1929. Although the other Founders assisted her with expansion in Texas, Dr. Blanton did much of the work organizing other states. By 1941, Delta Kappa Gamma had expanded into 35 states and 80 chapters.
In late 1941, Dr. Blanton went to live with her niece Dorothy Thatcher, who lived about six miles from Austin. Between that time and 1945, Dr. Blanton suffered from arthritis and numerous short illnesses that interfered with her teaching and her work with Delta Kappa Gamma. In the spring of 1945, Dr. Blanton became ill with an intestinal influenza that was complicated by a heart condition, and it was not until mid-May that she was able to resume her Delta Kappa Gamma duties. Although advised by her doctors not to travel, she made plans to attend a National Executive Board meeting in Denver, scheduled for August 27 and 28. In late summer, her health became worse and did not respond to medical treatment.
On October 2, 1945, Annie Webb Blanton passed away. She is buried in her family plot in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, in the shadow of huge live oaks.