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Oct 08

Anna E. Arnold (1879-1942): Kansas Educator and Author

Posted on October 8, 2020 at 1:54 PM by Donna Casement

Anna E. Arnold (1879-1942):  Kansas Educator and Author
Written by Donna Casement, State Library of Kansas
KGI Online Library Blog-October 8, 2020

(All copies of newspaper articles cited here can be viewed at KGI ONLINE LIBRARY)

“The first text book for Kansas schools issued by the State Text Book Commission under the new state publication law, is A History of Kansas, by Miss Anna E. Arnold. Shipments of the first edition of 40,000 copies were sent out on Sep. 22 from the state printing plant. W. E. Connelley, secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society and the author of a number of historical works, has carefully read and verified the history, and praises it highly. ‘Miss Arnold’s history is a good book and especially adapted for use in schools. She has written a connected and interesting narrative and has brought out the points that should be impressed upon the pupils. The book is written in a style that will interest young readers. A most important feature is that the history is accurate.’” (#1-The Kingman Journal, October 23, 1914)

A history of Kansas

In her preface to A History of Kansas, Arnold wrote, “No State has a history better calculated to inspire patriotism in its people than has Kansas. In this fact lies the greatest reason for teaching Kansas History in schools. A knowledge of the difficulties that have been met and conquered in building the State will create in the minds of the boys and girls a greater respect for the sturdy qualities of the pioneers; it will give them a whole sense of the great cost at which the ease and comfort of today have been purchased; it will stimulate in them a desire to live up to the past.” (A History of Kansas, by Anna E. Arnold, Anna E. Arnold publisher, 1914)

The same year Anna Arnold published A History of Kansas, she ran as the Democratic candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Arnold was the only woman candidate running for state office on either the Republican or Democratic ticket. “One of the most interesting figures in the present political campaign in Kansas is Miss Anna E. Arnold of Cottonwood Falls. She is interesting not so much from the fact that she is the only woman candidate for state office on either the Republican or Democratic tickets, as from the record she has already made in State educational affairs.” (#2-The Evening Review, Garnett, October 16, 1914)

A History of Kansas would be Arnold’s second textbook used in Kansas classrooms. Her Civics and Citizenship was her first textbook, adopted in 1912. The subtitle of this book reads, “A text-book for the boys and girls of Kansas which is intended not merely to give them information, but to assist them in developing a quality of citizenship that will make them worthy of their heritage.” (Civics and Citizenship by Anna E Arnold, Superintendent of Schools, Chase County, Kansas, Anna E Arnold, Publisher, 1912)

Anna E. Arnold Submission

The preface in Civics and Citizenship reads, “The real purpose of the study of civics is that of training for citizenship. The pupil should be led to see the relation between government and the everyday affairs of life, and the relations of individuals to each other; the relation of health; education, and industry to the public welfare; the relation of honesty to civic duties; the importance of obedience to law and authority.”

Civic and Citizenship table of contents

In 1909, Arnold was selected as one of four county superintendents and the only female, to serve on the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s committee on Course of Study. She was also a member of the State Reading Circle Board that chose reading material authorized for use in Kansas public schools.

State Reading-Circle Board


Anna Arnold was born in Whiting, Jackson County, Kansas in 1879 and moved to Cottonwood Falls as a child. She graduated from State Teachers’ College at Emporia. Arnold taught in grade schools, high schools and normal institutes. Arnold served four consecutive terms as Chase County superintendent of schools from 1906 to 1914. She was elected secretary and vice-president of the State Teachers’ Association and ran, but was unelected, for the position of State Superintendent in 1914. Arnold received a B.S. at Columbia University in school administration in January, 1917 and her master’s degree from Columbia in 1924.          (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/89480884/anna-e-arnold)

In the fall of 1917, Arnold accepted a position as principal of Portland’s Benson Polytechnic High School for girls in Oregon. She was anxious to fulfill her new role as principal. “While it is of course, too early for me to say just what are the needs of this community, as I have been here just a few hours, I am anxious to learn of them and shall make it my business, as soon as possible, to ascertain the situation with regard to community requirements.” (#3-The News-Courant, Strong City, September 20, 1917)

While in Portland, Arnold continued to be involved in educational associations and was president of the Portland Principals Association in 1928 and 1937. She never married. Arnold died in 1942 at the age of 62 after a two-month illness. She is buried in Portland, Oregon.

Benson High School

Benson High School