While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Mary S. Estill

KIRKLEY, BERTHA (1868–1949). Bertha Kirkley, teacher, daughter of James Ellison and Elizabeth (Hollis) Kirkley, was born in San Augustine, Texas, on January 10, 1868. Her family later moved to Beckville, Panola County, where she attended high school. She graduated in 1889 from Sam Houston Normal Institute (later Sam Houston State University) and in 1891 began to teach history there. She spent summer vacations earning college credits from Harvard University and the universities of Chicago, Tennessee, and Colorado, as well as Colorado State Teachers College. By the early 1920s she had completed the requirements for the bachelor's degree, which she received from Sam Houston State Teachers College. During a leave of absence from her teaching, she attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute; she received a master's degree in 1924. She retired from teaching in 1937 as an associate professor. Kirkley began the movement for the purchase of the Huntsville home of Sam Houston and its perpetuation as a historic shrine. From 1937 to 1941 she was curator of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. She was a member of the Texas State Teachers Association, Pi Gamma Mu (a national social-science honor society), and Sigma Tau Delta (a national English honor society). She was also a member and vice president of the East Texas Historical Association. She was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and served as president of the Brazos Presbyterial Union for two years. She died in Huntsville on August 14, 1949, and was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery.

Augusta Lawrence, comp., Faculty of Sam Houston Normal Institute and of Sam Houston State Teachers College, 1879–1940 (Huntsville: Sam Houston State University, n.d).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mary S. Estill, "KIRKLEY, BERTHA," accessed April 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fki36.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...