Burleson, Emma Kyle (1869–1941)

By: Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: April 5, 2020

Emma Kyle Burleson, preservationist, was born in August 1869 near San Marcos, Texas, the daughter of Lucy Emma (Kyle) and Edward Burleson, Jr. Her father was a Confederate veteran, a Texas Ranger, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875. His father, Gen. Edward Burleson, came to Texas in 1830 and fought in the battle of San Jacinto before serving as vice president of the Republic of Texas. Emma's maternal ancestors included Hays County pioneers and politicians Claiborne and Fergus Kyle. Her parents both died in 1877, leaving her and her nine siblings to be raised by an uncle. She attended St. Mary's Academy in Austin and Augusta Female Seminary (now Mary Baldwin College) in Virginia. After completing her education and traveling in Europe, she made Austin her home. Maintaining an ongoing interest in Texas history from her family heritage, she closely followed the state's purchase of the Alamo in 1905, carried out at the request of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas with a bill sponsored in the Texas legislature by Fergus Kyle. The following year Emma Burleson joined the DRT, an organization in which she remained active for the rest of her life.

She was also active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy and served for many years on the Texas Historical Commission. She helped preserve the old General Land Office building and was a founding member in 1911 of the Texas Fine Arts Association. In this organization she was involved in preserving the studio of her friend, artist Elisabet Ney. During World War I Burleson served as secretary-treasurer of the State Council of Defense and as a volunteer nurse at Texas army camps. In 1936 she chaired the official historical contest of the Texas Centennial Central Exposition. She was also a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas.

Emma Burleson died in Austin on June 16, 1941. Her funeral was held in St. Mary's Catholic Church (now St. Mary's Cathedral), and she was buried in Kyle. She was survived by one sister; her brother, Albert Sidney Burleson, postmaster general of the United States in Woodrow Wilson's administration, had died in 1937.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

Austin American, June 17, 18, 1941. Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1941. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Women
  • Preservationists
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Central Texas
  • Austin

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

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Burleson, Emma Kyle,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/burleson-emma-kyle.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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.

November 1, 1994
April 5, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: