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Irene Alberta Burns
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Birth: Dec. 1, 1872
Placer County
California, USA
Death: Apr. 20, 1962
Placer County
California, USA

Elected Placer County School Superintendent in 1914.

Irene Alberta Burns won the election for superintendent in 1914 becoming the first woman to serve in a county office. Born in Placer County in 1872, she grew up in Michigan Bluff near Foresthill. She received her degree from Curtiss and Patchett's Normal School in San Francisco and attended summer school at University of California. Her first teaching assignment was at Deadwood, a mining camp seven miles over a mountain trail up the Foresthill Divide from Michigan Bluff. She road horseback to the school each week and rode home on the weekends. Irene was barely five feet tall and weighed about 95 pounds. She said she, "was somewhat frightened of the big six-footers in her class," but she managed her students very well. Later she taught in Forest Hill, Lone Star, Blue Canyon and Auburn. She served as Superintendent of Schools for Placer County from 1914 to 1926. Burns stressed individualized attention, promoted hot lunches and hoped every school would use a victrola to assist with music education.

From: Placer County Historical Society Organization.




. . .one who has made such an honorable record along educational lines, should hold the position of superintendent of schools for Placer County; and that Miss Burns is holding it well, is evidenced by the fact that in her last two elections she has had no opponents. Born in Auburn, . . the daughter of Robert N. And Eliza (Conklin) Burns, . . .natives of Phil. . . . completing her elementary courses she obtained a certificate to teach.. . .she supplemented her studies by courses at Curtiss and Patchett's private normal school in San Francisco as well as course at the University of California.

Her first experience . . .was obtained at the school at Deadwood, in the mountains of Placer Co. with and attendance of seven pupils. This school was located seven miles over a mountain trail from the family home at Michigan Bluff and the young "schoolma'm" rode horseback to and from her school across the mountain trail at each week's end. She also taught at the school at Foresthill, Lone Star, and Blue Canyon and then taught for sixteen years in various grades in Auburn schools.

She is now serving her third term as county superintendent of schools. She was the first woman elected to the position in Placer County, in fact, the first woman to be elected to county office in Placer Co. . . .

Comments by Rober Elder

Miss Irene Burns was born in 1872. She was Placer county superintendent of Schools from 1914 to 1926, and was the first woman to hold elective office in Placer County.

She was born in Auburn, but lived in Michigan bluff and began teaching in Deadwood at the age of 18, reaching the school on horseback. She also taught at Blue Canyon, Foresthill, Lone Star and Auburn before running for office.
In 1930 she moved to San francisco for seven years and founded the Burns School for mentally retarded children. she retired to Auburn in 1942, and died in 1962.

Irene was one of the first women in Auburn to drive a car. She started the school nurse program and the consolidation of schools we know today.

She was one of ten children. Her brother, William, was a lawyer with offices over the Placer County Bank. A sister, Marian, married Mr. Purington. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Earl Lukens, and was well known as Beth Lukens of Lukens Hardware. 
Family links: 
  Robert N. Burns (1832 - 1880)
  Elizabeth A. Kiley Burns (1837 - 1913)
  Robert F. Burns (1858 - 1918)*
  Minnie Adalaide Burns Purington (1860 - 1940)*
  Elizabeth R. Burns Peterson (1862 - 1948)*
  William J. Burns (1864 - 1936)*
  Herbert G. Burns (1867 - 1924)*
  Marion Henry Burns (1869 - 1908)*
  Irene Alberta Burns (1872 - 1962)
  Warren Howard Burns (1874 - 1961)*
  Clayton Elmer Burns (1878 - 1942)*
*Calculated relationship
Old Auburn Cemetery
Placer County
California, USA
Plot: E 1/2 332-4
Created by: Glenda Ragan
Record added: Nov 18, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 44540468
Irene Alberta Burns
Added by: Glenda Ragan
Irene Alberta Burns
Added by: Glenda Ragan
Irene Alberta Burns
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Barbara
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 Added: Jun. 23, 2015

- Glenda Ragan
 Added: Nov. 18, 2009

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