Eby, Frederick (1874–1968)

By: Jacqueline Jeffrey

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: September 5, 2019

Frederick Eby, Christian writer and teacher, was born in the rural community of Ebytown in Ontario, Canada, on October 26, 1874, the sixth of seven children of Aaron Eby, a physician. He was raised in the Mennonite community there, but at about age ten, he and most of his family converted to the Baptist faith, and he remained a strong Baptist for the rest of his life. At age fourteen he entered the Stratford Institute and subsequently attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, with plans to become a minister. He received a B.A. from McMaster in 1895. He did graduate work at the University of Chicago and then in 1900 earned his Ph.D. from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Also in 1900, he married Elizabeth Newman, daughter of well-known church historian Albert Henry Newman. The couple had five children. Eby did postdoctoral study at the University of Berlin from 1905 to 1906; in 1921 he was awarded an honorary LL.D. from McMaster University. He taught at Morgan Park Academy in Chicago from 1897 to 1898, then at Baylor University in Texas from 1900 to 1908, before settling in at the University of Texas at Austin from 1909 until his retirement in 1957. At the University of Texas he served as professor and chairman of the department of history and philosophy of education. During his career he wrote seven books dealing with education and Christianity: Christianity and Education (1914), Education in Texas: Source Materials (1918), Early Protestant Educators (1931), The Development of Modern Education (1934), The History and Philosophy of Education: Ancient and Medieval (1940), Albert Henry Newman: the Church Historian (1946), and Reorganizing American Education for World Leadership (1958). While at the University of Chicago, Frederick Eby studied under philosopher and educator John Dewey; later, as a Christian, Eby came to oppose Dewey's secular and pragmatic ideas on public education. Some sources suggest that because of Eby's influence, Dewey's ideas and programs never became a strong part of the Texas educational system. Eby is best known for promoting a spiritual emphasis in education, for writing a history of Texas public education in celebration of its hundredth anniversary in 1954, and for helping shape the junior college system of Texas. He was often called the father of the Texas junior college movement, to which he replied, "Not the father, just the babysitter!" He died on February 10, 1968, and was buried in Austin Memorial Park in Austin.

Austin American-Statesman, February 12, 1968. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Teacher Education
  • Peoples
  • English
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Religion
  • Baptist

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

Jacqueline Jeffrey, “Eby, Frederick,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/eby-frederick.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
September 5, 2019