In an era when the dominant ideology divided the world into separate public and private spheres and relegated women to the private, Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker ardently promoted progressive causes including public education, women's suffrage, social reform, and the League of Nations.
A Texas educator, clubwoman, writer, lecturer, and social and political activist whose influence in the early twentieth century extended nationwide, Pennybacker wrote A New History of Texas, which was the state-adopted textbook for Texas history from 1898–1913 and remained in classroom use until the 1940s. She was also active in the burgeoning women’s club movement and served as president of both the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1912–14). The latter position was considered by some to be the most powerful position for a woman in America at that time.
Kelley King has mined the fifty-two linear feet of Pennybacker archives at the University of Texas Center for American History to reconstruct the "hidden history" of a feminist's life and work. There, she uncovered an impressive record of advocacy, interlaced with a moderate style and some old-fashioned biases.
King's work offers insight into the personal and political choices Pennybacker made and the effects these choices had in her life and on the American culture at large.
What Readers Are Saying:
". . . Kelley King has given us a rich and complicated portrait of a Southern woman who cultivated her image as a dainty, genteel Southern woman to promote Progressive causes throughout her life. . . King's volume is an impressive example of biography writing at its best. . . King's book should be read by anyone who is interested in the women's suffrage movement in the United States and the role of women in the Progressive era of the early twentieth century." - Richard Fossey, Teachers College Record
"...a complex portrait of a remarkably accomplished woman...makes important contributions to the history of education, Texas, and progressivism through its exhaustive examination of Pennybacker's activism"--Rebecca Montgomery, Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"Relying primarily on her subject's personal papers, Kelley M. King methodically documents Pennybacker's activities."--Judith N. McArthur, The Journal of Southern History, University of Houston-Victoria
“[This book is an] engaging biography. Readers will find much interest on the history of education here. Employing the fifty-two linear feet of materials in the Pennybacker archive at the University of Texas, Kelley M. King has written a thoughtful book.”—John Louis Recchiuti, History of Education Quarterly