Mattie B. Haywood White, teacher and artist, was born in Tennessee on March 29, 1867. She graduated from Walden University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1884. She taught at schools in the South before moving to Austin in the late 1880s. In 1889 she married Thomas J. White, and they had two sons. White founded Austin's first private school for African-American girls at her residence in 1892. In 1900 she was employed to teach art at the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youth (later the Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School), a position she held for over forty years. There she used sign language, written instructions, and patterns to teach hearing impaired students to paint, draw, crochet, knit, embroider, and make rugs. Blind students learned to crochet and weave baskets and rugs. Mattie B. White was a versatile artist who worked in many media, including oils, hand-painted china, embroidery, and crochet-work. She favored landscape scenes and was awarded first prize at a National Women's Federation Meeting for an oil painting of Texas bluebonnets. In one exquisite work she painted a seascape scene on an oyster shell that she fashioned into a brooch. White was known for her collection of paintings and decorative arts. In addition to teaching and painting, she supported her husband's efforts to commemorate the emancipation of African Americans. She helped him to organize the Travis County Emancipation Celebration Association, which spearheaded a drive to purchase land for a park in East Austin. In 1909 she spoke at a Juneteenth celebration held in the recently acquired Emancipation Park, taking as her subject the "Opportunity and Responsibility of the Negro." She was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church for many years. Mattie B. White died on June 11, 1951, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Austin. The Foundation for Women's Resources recognized her contributions as a teacher and artist by including White in the traveling exhibition Texas Women: A Celebration of History (1981–82).
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C. W. Abington, Historical and Biographical Souvenir and Program of the 25th Anniversary of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Austin, Texas, 1882–1907 (Austin, 1907). Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, A Pictorial History of Austin, Travis County: Texas's Black Community, 1839–1920 (Austin, 1972). Ruthe Winegarten, Finder's Guide to the `Texas Women: A Celebration of History' Exhibit Archives (Denton: Texas Woman's University Library, 1984).
Art and Architecture
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“White, Mattie B. Haywood,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 18, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
October 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: