Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Carrie McCord Parke, 1863-1939
By Nancy Gonce, independent historian
Carrie (Caroline) Anne McCord, daughter of Russell McCord, MD and Ann Eliza Ferguson, pioneer family of Selma, Alabama, attended the Dallas Academy (1879-1880), and taught there 1884-1886. In 1886, she married Julian Barton Parke, a member of an influential merchant family of Selma, Alabama, and died in Selma in 1939.
The movement toward securing the vote for women in Alabama began in Selma in the 1890s. Citizens of Selma began their work for woman suffrage legislation in 1892, and in 1901, following the failure of the passage of a resolution introduced by Dallas County delegate to the constitutional convention, J.H. Greene, to include women's right to vote. The Selma Equal Suffrage Association (SESA) was formed in 1910 and Miss Mary Winslow Partridge was elected President. Citizens of Birmingham also organized to address the issue of woman suffrage and formed the Birmingham Equal Suffrage Association (BESA). The two chapters combined their resources in 1912, to create a statewide organization, the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association (AESA) and a convention was held in Selma at the Albert Hotel. At the state convention held in February 1916, Carrie McCord Parke was elected president and under her leadership the Alabama headquarters were moved to Selma. Ironically, the Alabama Association to Oppose Woman Suffrage was formed by Nellie V. Baker, also a citizen of Selma. However, the SESA continued to be associated with women's organizational influence as it responded to the crisis experienced by the city during a flood on the Alabama River. The group received praise for their efforts to assist families in need as the result of the flood under the leadership of Parke.
At the second state convention of the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, held in Huntsville, Alabama, February 5, 1914, Carrie McCord Parke was recognized for her work on behalf of woman suffrage. The third convention was held in Gadsden, Alabama, and, as evidence of the growth of the movement, 26 local associations send reports. Carrie McCord Parke was elected president.
Joining the opposition forces, the men of Dallas County, elected in 1918, a solid anti-suffrage delegation. Carrie McCord Parke was allowed to present the case to the Alabama legislature. Her testimony included her view that women wanted to share in the things that are going on the state and country. However, these pleas for passage were defeated 60-31 in the House and 19-13 in the Senate.
Carrie McCord Parke worked diligently to procure the support of groups such as the Alabama Education Association, the Farmers Union, American Federation of Labor and other organizations.
Efforts also turned toward a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In June 1919, Congress passed a resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution so that women could vote. In August, 1920, the 19th Amendment received support of the required three-fourths of the states and became law. Despite the failure of Alabama support the constitutional amendment women voted for the first time, almost three decades after the initial push for action.
Efforts then turned toward the organization of a group, which continues to address women's leadership and a broad range of suffrage issues. With the election of 1922 of Hattie Hooks Wilkins as the first woman to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives, women such as Carrie McCord Parke were a testament to the hard work and dedication of women throughout the state. Leaders such as Carrie McCord Parke celebrated the success of the work, and then worked to establish the next generation organization, the League of Women Voters, which replaced the suffrage movement but continued the efforts for participation by citizens in the voting process.
Allen, Lee N. "The Woman Suffrage Movement in Alabama 1910-1920, " Alabama Review, 11, April, 1958, pp 83-99
National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Proceedings of the ...AnnualConvention ( 1916), pp 162-63. Information supplied by the Selma Public Library
Alabama, Deaths and Burial Index, 1881-1974;br 1910 United States Federal Census, Alabama;
Alabama, Select Marriages, 1816-1942
1880 United States Federal Census.
1920 United States Federal Census.
Bridges, Edwin C. Alabama: The Making of an American State. The University of Alabama Press, published in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, 2016, pp 162-163.
Encyclopedia of Alabama. Valerie Pope Burnes, Judson College. Alabama Humanities Foundation. Alabama Equal Suffrage Association. Published April 10, 2007, last updated May 23, 2017. www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1150
Fitts, Alton III. Selma: A Bicentennial History. University of Alabama Press, 2016. Pp 166, 174-179.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Women Suffrage. Vol VI, 1900-1920. National Women's Suffrage Association, 1922, pp 3-4.
Moore, Albert Burton. History of Alabama and Her People. The American Historical Society, Inc., 1927, p 965.
Rohr, Nancy M. "They Are Too Sweet and Angelic to Reason: Or How Women Got the Vote in Alabama". http://huntsvillehistorycollection.org
Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Information. www.selmaalabama.com/history.html, no date
Selma Times. "Suffragists Honor Two Selma Women". February 12, 1916, p 1
"Anti-Suffrage Movement Launched Here With a Large Membership, Officers Named," February 12, 1916, p 1
Swenson, Mary. "To Uplift A State and Nation: The Formative Years of the Alabama League of Women Voters, 1920-1921," Alabama Historic Quarterly, Vol. 37 No 2 1975 pp 115-16.
"The Decline of the Cotton Kingdom", n.d., pp 174-79. Information supplied by the Selma Public Library