Clara C. Waters

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Clara C. Waters

Clara C. Waters

“It is not easy raising children today. Imagine how difficult it was to raise children in 1927 as a widow. For a woman to hold such a demanding position and take care of her children reflects true character and determination.”
Millicent Newton Embry & Janice Thompson


One of the three female pioneers of Oklahoma corrections, including Mabel Bassett and Kate Barnard, Clara Waters was born in Arkansas and came to Oklahoma as a student at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University). She attended Central State College (now the University of Central Oklahoma) and began her teaching career in Pawnee, Oklahoma.

In 1920 her husband Dr. George Waters was appointed warden of the Granite Reformatory for Boys, and Mrs. Waters directed the work of the school and its library. She instituted mandatory study times for all inmates who did not have at least an 8th grade education. She became the warden of the institution upon her husband’s death in 1927. Her name was honored in 1978 with the creation of the Clara Waters Community Corrections Center in north Oklahoma City. A granite memorial at its entrance, dedicated in 1998, pays tribute to her life and work in Oklahoma.

Fun fact

Clara Waters became the first female warden of an all-male correctional facility (1927 to 1932) in the United States. It was in this reformatory that Mrs. Waters created what later became the first fully-accredited “behind-the-walls” high school in the United States.

Oklahoma connections

Waters attended Central State College (now the University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, Oklahoma.









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