Anna McClain Sankey and Harry McClain


Anna McClain Sankey (1882-1960) and her brother, Harry Richard McClain (1880-1961), were the driving force behind student theatre at Webster for over 30 years.


Black and white photograph of Anna McClain Sankey


Anna McClain Sankey joined the faculty of Loretto College (as Webster was called until 1924) in 1919. She would later serve as head of the Speech Department (which included Theatre) for many years. Sankey was also active in theatre in the St. Louis area, teaching at Visitation Academy and the Missouri School for the Blind.


Harry McClain had an unusual background for a theatre director, earning a law degree from Cornell University in 1902 and serving as a probation officer at the St. Louis Juvenile Court for a period of time. His true love, however, was the stage. He taught theatre at Webster College, St. Louis University, and Washington University. He directed productions on radio station KMOX as well as for the Roof Top Theater and the Morse School for Expression. At Webster, he was best known for his annual Shakespeare productions and for originating the tradition of the pilgrimage to the Shakespeare statue in Tower Grove Park.

Black and white photograph of Harry McClain 

Anna McClain Sankey and her brother Harry retired from Webster in the early 1950s. They were honored at a dinner at the college in 1953, and a benefit in Harry's honor featuring well-known actress Helen Hayes was given in 1962.




H.R. M'Clain dies; taught dramatics. (1961, April 18). St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Irwin, Roberta. (1940). History of dramatics at Webster College, 1915 to 1935. Unpublished manuscript. Webster College, St. Louis, MO. (Available online; posted with permission)

Mr. McClain directs Shakespearian play. (1944, April 4). The Web, vol. 20, no. 8, p. 4.
Mrs. Anna M'Clain Sankey dies; was speech teacher. (1960, August 8). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 15.
Ritch, Ann. (1938, November 22). Harry R. McClain discusses 'Cradle Song' as vehicle for school productions. The Web, vol. 15, no. 3, p. 3.