Robertson Elementary School was named in 1929 while Tulsa was in the middle of the oil boom and with it a surge of construction of mansions and offices. Employees with the oil industry and their families were relocating to Tulsa, many with Native American roots.
The school was named after Alice Mary Robertson. Alice Mary Robertson (1854-1931) was an American educator, social worker, government official, and politician who became the second woman to serve in the United States Congress and the first from the State of Oklahoma. Robertson was the first woman to defeat an incumbent congressman. She was known for her strong personality and commitment to Native American issues.
Robertson started working as a clerk in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Washington, D.C. (1873 to 1879). She returned to the Indian Territory and briefly worked as a teacher in the school at Tullahassee. Later she taught at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. It was the model for Indian boarding schools across the country.
Robertson returned to the Indian Territory and established the Nuyaka Mission. It was run by Presbyterians who reported to the Creek Council. She taught in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, where she headed up a Presbyterian boarding school for Native American girls. It eventually developed into Henry Kendall College, and then the University of Tulsa.
Robertson was appointed by the BIA as the first government supervisor of Creek Indian schools, serving from 1900 to 1905. She was next appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as the United States postmaster of Muskogee, a position she held from 1905 to 1913. She was the country's first woman postmaster of a Class A post office.During World War I, she provided a canteen service to local troops in what was the start of the Muskogee Chapter of the American Red Cross.
A large part of Robertson’s lifelong work was with Native American welfare, the result of which still impacts many TPS students and families. The boarding school she ran for Native American girls developed into the University of Tulsa. Her work in the area of equity dovetails with the values of the community.
Alice Mary Robertson