Jeffie O. A. Conner, home economist and teacher, was born near Waco on August 17, 1895, the daughter of Jeff D. and Meddie Lillian Estelle Allen. After graduating from Mary Allen Seminary in 1912, she earned a teacher's diploma from Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College in 1914. She taught in county schools from 1914 to 1923. She married George Sherman Conner, a physician, on September 19, 1923; they had no children.
Beginning in 1923, Mrs. Conner served as cooperative extension agent for the rural Black population of McLennan County. Her home-demonstration program instructed farm families in scientific gardening practices, nutritious methods of food preparation and preservation, and home sanitation. In the schools she concentrated on improving nutrition and on preventing the spread of disease by showing children how to make individual drinking cups from used tin cans instead of drinking from a common dipper. At the same time, she continued her own formal education by earning a B.S. in home economics from Prairie View in 1934. In 1935 she became supervisor of home-demonstration work for seventeen East Texas counties. She traveled from one to another and stayed in private homes because hotels refused to accommodate Blacks. She incorporated her professional experience into graduate work at Prairie View and received her M.S. in 1944 after completing a thesis entitled "A Study of 460 Negro Farm Families in Three Texas Counties." In 1946 she did additional coursework at Cornell University.
She resigned in 1948 to become supervisor of McLennan County schools, a position she held until 1957. She presided over the Texas Association of Colored Women's Clubs from 1955 to 1959 and was active in Waco civic affairs and in the New Hope Baptist Church. Governor John Connally appointed her to the Governor's Committee on Public School Education in 1967, and she served on the Waco Human Relations Commission from 1969 to 1972. Jeffie Conner's awards included an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Paul Quinn College, a citation from Prairie View A&M University for outstanding service in the humanities, and a woman-of-the-year award from Zeta Beta Phi sorority. She died in Waco on June 10, 1972, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
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George S. and Jeffie O. A. Conner Papers, Texas Collection, Baylor University. Waco News-Tribune, January 13, 1967. Patricia Ward Wallace, A Spirit So Rare: A History of the Women of Waco (Austin: Nortex, 1984).
Activism and Social Reform
Physical Education, Home Economics, and Health
Texas in the 1920s
World War II
Texas Post World War II
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Judith N. McArthur,
“Conner, Jeffie Obrea Allen,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
September 9, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: