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Mary A. Sarber

STANTON, MARY IRENE (1862–1946). Mary Irene Stanton, teacher and founder of the El Paso Public Library, was born in Whitefield County, Georgia, on February 11, 1862. She attended Salaquay Academy and the Village School of Fairmount, then received a teaching certificate from the North Georgia Agricultural College at Dahlonega and a B.S. (1883) from Austin Female Seminary at Plainville, Georgia. She arrived in El Paso with a trunkfull of books in 1884 to join her brothers, Chapel Q. and Marvin W. Stanton, both attorneys. In the fall of 1884 she began teaching a third-grade class in Central School, then El Paso's only school building. Mary Stanton attended Central Normal in Danville, Indiana, in 1885 to help prepare her for teaching commercial subjects; she returned to El Paso and resumed teaching in 1886. Books were always her first love. In 1894 she made her own library of 600 volumes available to high school boys by starting a reading club. This small beginning grew so rapidly that within a year Miss Stanton sought the assistance of other interested individuals and transferred the collection into a larger room. In 1895 the El Paso Public Library Association was formed with her as president. A room in the new City Hall was set aside for the library, and a collection of 2,000 books was moved into it in 1899. The need for an independent library building was apparent, and in the next few years under her leadership grants were successfully sought from Andrew Carnegie. In 1904 the Carnegie library, located in the 500 block of North Oregon Street, was opened to the public (see CARNEGIE LIBRARIES). Mary Stanton resigned as president of the library board in 1903 but never gave up her strong interest in the library, as indicated by newspaper articles and correspondence up to the time of her death.

In 1905 she organized the first commercial department in the high school; it featured a four-year course. She resigned from the El Paso public schools in 1916 and opened a private business school in her own home. In 1921 she was placed in charge of the commercial department at the high school of Tularosa, New Mexico. She retired from teaching in 1925 but remained in Tularosa to study nature until 1928, when she returned to El Paso. After her retirement from teaching she continued to read, research, and write. The article outlining her life in Pioneer Women Teachers In Texas (1952) closes with what could have been her chosen epitaph: "At the time of her death [in El Paso] on August 26, 1946, she possessed two thousand books."

El Paso Public Library Progress Report, 1894–1929 (El Paso: Ellis Brothers Printing, 1929).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Mary A. Sarber, "STANTON, MARY IRENE," accessed June 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstcw.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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