Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker (1861-1938) was an accomplished suffragette, educator, author, and advocate for progressive causes. Born in Petersburg, Virginia, she attended Sam Houston Normal Institute and graduated in 1880 as part of its first class. She married classmate Percy V. Pennybacker in 1884, but their marriage proved to be a short one. He died in 1899, leaving her free to follow her passion for advocacy. Prior to his death, they worked together as educators and she wrote and published A New History of Texas in 1888. This textbook, known as “the Pennybacker text” was the standard for teaching Texas history for the next forty years.

Pennybacker started her career in advocacy in the Texas club movement, founding one of the first Texas women’s clubs, the Tyler Woman’s Club in 1894. From 1901 to 1903 she led the Texas Federation of Women, with which she raised $3,500 for women’s scholarships at the University of Texas and successfully lobbied for the creation of a women’s dormitory there. She is also responsible for the creation of many libraries in Texas, a legacy of a travelling library and art collection that she funded. Pennybacker held many positions with the General Federation of Women's Clubs, culminating in two terms as president, from 1911-1912 and 1912-1916.

From 1919 to 1920, Pennybacker served as an associate member of the Democratic National Committee where she began a close and influential relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. She worked as an unofficial analyst for the Roosevelt presidential campaigns, helping to gauge political sentiments in the Southwest. Pennybacker and Mrs. Roosevelt worked together on a number of issues including the advancement of women, world peace, and the furthering of the progressive reforms of the Democratic party. As a frequent guest of the White House, Pennybacker convinced both the first lady and her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, to speak on behalf of her causes. In fact, President Roosevelt helped to fundraise at the Chautauqua Institutes’ Women’s Club in 1936, and Eleanor Roosevelt became the first and only First Lady to speak at Sam Houston State University in 1937.

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker remained active throughout her entire life working for the causes that she felt passionate about. She was a frequent lecturer around the country and became the first woman in history to give the commencement address to the city of Houston’s combined high schools. She had such a prolific and diverse record of contributions, from Food Administration of Texas in World War I to acting as a special correspondent to the League of Nations, that when she died in her home in Austin on February 4, 1938, she was respected throughout the country for her work in social causes.

Images

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

This picture shows Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker as a young women while she was the president of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs (1901-1903). | Source: Call Her a Citizen : Progressive-Era Activist and Educator Anna Pennybacker by Kelley M. King, The Women's Collection, Blagg-Huey Library, Texas Women's University. View File Details Page

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker was active throughout her entire life working with women's clubs and lobbying for equal rights for women. She was also active in other Progressive Era causes and was a strong supporter of Roosevelt's New Deal. | Source: Out of the Box! Treasures of Newton Gresham Library, http://nglarchivesandspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/happy-international-womens-day/ View File Details Page

Anna Pennybacker with Eleanor Roosevelt at Sam Houston State

Anna Pennybacker with Eleanor Roosevelt at Sam Houston State

As an associate member of the Democratic National Committee, Pennybacker formed a lasting friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1937, Roosevelt visited the campus of Sam Houston State, the first and only First Lady to do so. | Source: Out of the Box! Treasures of Newton Gresham Library, http://nglarchivesandspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/happy-international-womens-day/ View File Details Page

A New History of Texas for Schools

A New History of Texas for Schools

School children at the turn of the century knew of Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker as the author of the Texas History textbook, A New History of Texas for Schools, which was used for forty years. | Source: University of North Texas Libraries. View File Details Page

Tuscaloosa News Article Page 1

Tuscaloosa News Article Page 1

In an article from The Tuscaloosa News , Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker was interviewed about her relationship with Mrs. and President Roosevelt. She described Mrs. Roosevelt as "one of the most charitable and sympathetic persons" she has ever met. | Source: Tuscaloosa News. January 31, 1934 View File Details Page

Tuscaloosa News Article Page 2

Tuscaloosa News Article Page 2

In the second page of an article from The Tuscaloosa News , Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker discusses her relationship with renowned activist Jane Addams. Hundreds of delegates are meeting at the University of Alabama to hear from Pennybacker and others as part of the Alabama Federation of Women's Club Institute. | Source: Tuscaloosa News. January 31, 1934 View File Details Page

Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker

Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker were intimate friends who spent a lot of time together. Here they are photographed at the Chautauqua Women's Club, which Pennybacker helped to create and served as its president from 1917 until the time of her death in 1938. | Source: Call Her a Citizen : Progressive-Era Activist and Educator Anna Pennybacker by Kelley M. King, Photograph by Harold Wagner, The Chautauqua Institute. View File Details Page

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker with Prominent Women

Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker with Prominent Women

In this photograph, taken at the Chautauqua Institute , Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker is pictured with the wives of (left to right) Thomas Edison, Henry Ford as well as Mary Miller Nichols, Anne Studebaker Carlisle, and Mrs. Robert A. Miller. | Source: Call Her a Citizen : Progressive-Era Activist and Educator Anna Pennybacker by Kelley M. King, Photograph by Harold Wagner, The Chautauqua Institute. View File Details Page

Chautauqua Institute's Week on Foreign Relations, 1928.

Chautauqua Institute's Week on Foreign Relations, 1928.

Pictured here are (left to right) James T. Shotwell, two unidentified women, Bettie Monroe Sippell, Pennybacker, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Arthur Bestor. Shotwell was an attendee of the Paris Peace Conference under President Wilson, Sippell was the president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs from 1928-1932 and Catt was the president of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association and founder of the League of Women Voters. | Source: Call Her a Citizen : Progressive-Era Activist and Educator Anna Pennybacker by Kelley M. King, Photograph by Harold Wagner, The Chautauqua Institute. View File Details Page

Audio

Eleanor Roosevelt visits SHSU

In this edition of "Musings From Sam Houston's Stomping Grounds" librarian Cheryl G. Spencer reads an article that was printed the day after Eleanor Roosevelt visited Huntsville at the behest of Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker. | Source: Cheryl G. Spencer, Library Associate in Special Collections, reads an article about the day Eleanor Roosevelt came to Huntsville. "Musings From Sam Houston's Stomping Grounds" View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Allison Baughman, “Anna Hardwicke Pennybacker,” East Texas History, accessed June 25, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/23.

Subjects

Share this Story