Sister Marie Anita Burt, O.P., who founded Sacred Heart Dominican College in Houston, daughter of Joseph and Margaret (Hannon) Burt, was born in Olean, New York, on March 25, 1899. She attended Catholic schools in New York and Kansas before her family moved to Brownwood, Texas. She attended boarding school at St. Dominic Villa in Lampasas and after high school studied at the Art Institute in Chicago before joining the Dominican Sisters in Galveston in 1919. She graduated in 1934 from Rosemont College, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, earned her M.A. in 1946 from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and received her Ph.D. in 1957 from the University of Texas. Her dissertation was an edition of Jacobus de Cessolis's Libellus de Moribus, a medieval moral treatise.
As a member of a large teaching order, Sister Anita focused in her early teaching years on secondary education. In 1937 she was appointed principal in Port Arthur, where she helped organize the city's first Catholic high school. In addition, she taught in other Dominican schools-St. Agnes Academy, Houston; Sacred Heart Academy, Galveston; St. Anthony High School, Beaumont; and St. Mary High School, Taylor. In an effort to realize Mother Pauline (Catherine) Gannon's dream of a Dominican college, in 1945 Sister Anita founded a junior college in Houston affiliated with the Catholic University of America and intended for the education of Dominican nuns. A few years later, at the suggestion of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the school became a four-year liberal arts college for women, named Sacred Heart Dominican College (later Dominican College). Sister Anita was the academic dean of the college from that time until she retired in 1964, with the exception of three years taken for further study. She was a member of the American Philological Association, the Renaissance Society of America, the Modern Language Association, the National Education Association, and the National Catholic Education Association. Though she received many honors, she maintained that her greatest privilege was being a Dominican sister. After a lengthy illness she died on November 28, 1975, in Houston at St. Dominic Villa, the retired sisters' home.
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Texas Catholic Herald, December 5, 1975. Who's Who of American Women, 1966–67.
Founders and Pioneers
Texas in the 1920s
Texas Post World War II
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sister Antoinette Boykin, O.P.,
“Burt, Marie Anita,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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