Mary Paulding Barnett studied at Kansas State Teacher College of Emporia from 1891-1894 and graduated with an A.B.
She continued with graduate work at the University of Minnesota (1904), at Stanford University (1905), at the University of California (Summer Sessions 1906, 1910), and at the University of Chicago (1907-1908, 1910), from where she received an M.A. in 1908.
She taught Latin, Greek, and later Spanish at a large number of high schools and colleges in seven U.S. states. Before coming to Willamette University, she had taught in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri (Tarkio College), Wisconsin, Montana, and California.
At Willamette University, she spent two years (1909-1911) as a Professor of Latin, before moving on to Mills College in Oakland, California, where she stayed for several years. In 1922, she was a Professor of Latin and Greek at Hedding College in Abingdon, Illinois. The college was closed down, however, in 1924. Mary Barnett moved on to Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, where she was teaching Spanish at the time of her death from pneumonia on Feb. 14, 1930.
- A.B., University of Kansas 1897
- A.M., University of Chicago 1908