Biographical Database on NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Marielou Armstrong Cory, 1861-1951

By Michelle Bernstein, attorney

Member of the League of Women Voters of Alabama

December 1, 2017

Marielou Armstrong Cory (née Mary Lou Armstrong) was born in Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama, on July 12, 1861, to Thomas King Armstrong and Martha Louisa DuBois. Marielou Armstrong was listed among the graduates of Mansfield Female College, Desoto Parish, Louisiana, Class of 1880. Miss Armstrong married Chappell Cory of Birmingham, AL (1858-1928) on November 26, 1890 in Gadsden, AL. Chappell Cory was managing editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. Their children were Chappell Cory, Jr; Armstrong Cory; Mattie Linn Cory (died in infancy) and Theresa Cory Strode. Her daughter Theresa reported that Mary Lou Armstrong changed the spelling of her name from Mary Lou to Marielou after returning to America from France. Marielou Armstrong Cory died on June 4, 1951 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL.

Mrs. Cory taught music and art in the public schools of Decatur, Alabama and Birmingham, Alabama and was a church organist. In addition, Mrs. Cory was active in social legislation to continue the operations of the Alabama Boys Industrial School at East Lake, and to establish the Alabama Girls Industrial School. The Alabama Girls Industrial School (later the University of Montevallo) was founded in 1896 to train girls to become teachers, bookkeepers, artists, musicians, dressmakers, telegraphers and milliners and other trades and professions, an innovative idea at the time. In other social activities, Mrs. Cory was a vice president and a member of the legislative committee of the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs and assisted in the formation of the Alabama division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), for which organization she was president from 1911 to 1914. While president of the Alabama UDC, Mrs. Cory initiated the placement of confederate monuments at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Mrs. Cory was also active in the woman suffrage movement in Alabama, with her first reported activity in 1912. As an outgrowth of women's temperance activities in Selma, Alabama and other areas, the Birmingham Equal Suffrage Association was formed in 1911 and the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association (AESA) was organized in 1912. Many in the AESA favored woman suffrage for white women only, believing that if white women gained the vote, they would counterbalance the votes cast by African American men. Marielou Armstrong Cory was one of the first delegates of the AESA selected to attend the national convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association held in November of 1912. In January, 1915 a resolution supporting woman suffrage was introduced in the Alabama legislature. As President of the Alabama UDC, Mrs. Cory worked to advance the bill, which was eventually defeated. Similarly, the AESA pushed for Alabama's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was also defeated in Alabama. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the amendment which gave all women the right to vote. The AESA was thereafter dissolved and many former AESA members joined the League of Women Voters, which was founded in 1920.

Mrs. Cory's interests extended to preservation of historic confederate structures. As one of the organizers of the First White House of the Confederacy Association, Mrs. Cory worked to preserve the First White House of the Confederacy, located in Montgomery, Alabama. The First White House of the Confederacy was the executive residence of President Jefferson Davis and family while the capital of the Confederate States of America was in Montgomery, Alabama. Mrs. Cory served as Regent of that organization from 1919 to 1951, the year of her death.

Mrs. Cory was author of several books on history and the Confederacy, among them:

The History of the Memorial Association of Montgomery: Its Origin and Organization, 1860-1870, Montgomery, Ala.: Alabama Printing Co. (1902).

The True Story of the First Confederate Flag. Montgomery: Alabama Dept. of Archives and History, 1922.

Alabama legislature declares Nicola Marschall designer first Confederate flag, Stars and bars supported by affidavits of Marschall's contemporaries and others : including "The true story of the first Confederate flag," by Mrs. Chappell Cory.


The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida Husted Harper, Vol VI (1900 to 1920), National American Woman Suffrage Association, J.J. Little & Ives Company, New York (1922) [LINK]

Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, Valerie Pope, Judson College, article in the Encyclopedia of Alabama (Published: Apri110, 2007; Last updated: May 23, 2017) Desoto Parish Louisiana Roster of Alumnae & Graduates, Mansfield Female College, 1856-1896 10/27/2017

www.FirstWhiteHouse.org10/20/2017 for MarieLou Armstrong Cory, Chappell Cory and Therese Cory Strode 10/27/2017 11/28/2017

The History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, written by Thomas McAdory Owen, published in 1921 by the S.J. Clarke Publishing Company

The Alabama Historical Quarterly.

by [Montgomery, Ala.] Alabama State Dept. of Archives and History.

Publication date 1930

Publisher [Montgomery, Ala.] Alabama State Dept. of Archives and History

Volume v.24

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