Adair, Anthony Garland (1889–1966)

By: Willena C. Adams

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: August 23, 2018

Anthony Garland Adair, historian and curator of the Texas Memorial Museum, son of J. B. and Mattie (Palmer) Adair, was born in Queen City, Texas, on March 28, 1889. His father was a Methodist minister. Adair attended Wesley College in Terrell, Texas, and the University of Texas, where he was president of the Students' Assembly and Council and a member of the Cofer Law Society. After leaving the university and before World War I, Adair was editor of the Marshall Messenger. He entered the army in 1917; on September 1, 1918, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. On September 22 of that year he married Gladys Marie Ingram, a schoolteacher, of Texarkana. They became the parents of two daughters and one son.

After the war Adair edited and published newspapers at Hico, Mexia, Breckenridge, and McCamey. He was twice named a delegate to national Democratic conventions, from Hico in 1920 and from Mexia in 1924. He became active in the American Legion and was made commander of the Fifth Division in 1930. In 1932 he moved his family to Austin and assumed the duties of department historian for the legion. In 1935 he was named chairman of the Centennial Committee of the American Legion of Texas, which sponsored legislation to authorize the organization of a state museum. Adair conceived the idea of selling souvenir coins to raise money for the project, and fifty-cent silver coins commemorating the Texas Centennial were minted by the federal government. Sales raised some $92,000. Adair was named curator of patriotic exhibits when the Texas Memorial Museum opened in 1939; he later became curator of history, a position he held until his retirement in 1959.

He was coauthor of several books, among them Texas, Its History, with Ellen B. Coats (1954), and Austin and Commodore Perry, with E. H. Perry, Sr. (1956). He edited a series of Texas history periodicals during the 1940s and 1950s, including the Texas Pictorial Handbook and Under Texas Skies. He compiled a book of political cartoons depicting John Nance Garner (1958).

The Forty-seventh Texas Legislature named Adair commissioner for the 1945–46 observance of the Texas Centennial of Statehood. He was an honorary life member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, a life member of the Texas State Historical Association, a fellow of the Texas Academy of Science, a member of the Texas Press Association and the Knights of the Order of San Jacinto, an executive director of the Texas Heritage Foundation, and a Methodist. He died in Temple on December 14, 1966, and was buried in the State Cemetery at Austin.

Austin American, March 28, 1964, December 15, 16, 1966. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Willena C. Adams, “Adair, Anthony Garland,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 23, 2018