MARRS, INA CADDELL (ca. 1875 ~ 1960). Ina Caddell Marrs, teacher and civic leader, was born in Belton, Texas, around 1875, the daughter of R. M. and Sarah M. (Elliott) Caddell. Her mother died when Ina was very young.
Ina graduated from North Texas Normal College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton and began her career as a public school teacher in that town. On June 9, 1909, she married Starlin Marion Newberry Marrs, a widower with four children who was then the school superintendent in Terrell and later served as state superintendent of public instruction (1923 ~ 1932).
The Marrses moved to Austin from Terrell in 1919, when Starlin accepted a position with the state department of education. Mrs. Marrs shared her husband's interest in statewide school issues and was active in various educational groups. In 1920 she was elected the fifth president of the Texas Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations (now the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers), a position she held for two terms (through 1924). The Congress, which had 40,000 members by the 1920s, was devoted to improved welfare for children in home, school, church, and state. During her tenure in office she emphasized a "participating membership" and led the organization as it worked closely with other prominent women's groups, including the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, the League of Women Voters, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.
These groups, known collectively as the Joint Legislative Council or "Petticoat Lobby," sought a wide variety of social reforms for the state. Under Ina Marrs's leadership the Texas Congress joined the council in support of prison reform, health programs for school students, play programs, compulsory attendance laws, child labor laws, stronger prohibition laws, and aid to mothers and infants. During her administration the Congress also sponsored a survey that ascertained conditions of Texas children in rural areas. She began the organization's monthly bulletin, oversaw a revision of its constitution, and directed its incorporation. Shortly before she left office a loan fund was established in her honor by the Texas Congress to help teachers continue their education.
Ina Marrs was also active in the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. In the 1920s she served as a vice president of this organization and headed its Department of Public Welfare. From 1928 to 1930 she was president of the National Congress, the fifth person so elected and the first former Texas president to hold this office. As national president she represented the organization at the Geneva Conference on the International Federation of Home and School. Her other civic endeavors reflected her educational interests.
In 1930 she was appointed by United States secretary of the interior Ray Lyman Wilbur to serve on the nation's Advisory Committee on Education and White House Conference on Child and Health Protection. She also served as a vice president of the American Child Health Association and a director of the International Federation of Home and School. Additional organizational interests included the Texas Public Health Association and Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
After her husband's death Ina Marrs moved to California to live with relatives. She died in Santa Ana, California, on June 13, 1960, and was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. She was survived by three step-sons and a step-daughter.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American, June 14, 1960. Files, Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, Austin. Lucille Moore, History and Development of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1946). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin (Starlin M. N. Marrs, Mrs. S. M. N. Marrs).
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell
"MARRS, INA CADDELL." The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Tue Jun 17 11:48:27 US/Central 2003 ].