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Woman of the Century/Florence Elizabeth Cory

CORY. Mrs. Florence Elizabeth, industrial designer, born in Syracuse, N. V., 4th June, 1851. She is a daughter of Johnson L. Hall. She comes of Revolutionary stock and traces her descent back through those on her father's side, who won distinction worthy of historical mention in the War of 1812, and more notedly in the battles of Monmouth and Stony Point in the Revolution, to General Isaac Hall and to Col. Harry Hall At the age of nineteen she became the wife of Hon. Henry W. Cory, of St. Paul, Minn., but in two years returned with her only child, a girl, to reside with her parents. Her education was of that sort so commonly sufficient for the average society girl, but wholly inadequate to meet her great desire of becoming independent. FLORENCE ELIZABETH CORY.jpgFLORENCE ELIZABETH CORY. In spite of the fact that she had loving parents and a home replete with all the comforts and luxuries that money and refinement bring, her longing to do for herself could not be conquered, and she was continually casting about for some occupation in which to find support and, possibly, distinction. Noticing how inartistic were the designs on most of the carpets, curtains and tapestries which met her eye, the question arose " why can I not make them better?" Then began her life-work, which has placed her in the front rank of self-made women and won for her the enviable distinction of being the first practical woman designer in the United States, if not in the world. Mrs. Cory corresponded with leading carpet manufacturers, and they at once recognized the practicability of women designers, and from each she received encouragement and was advised to begin a course of instruction in Cooper Union, New York. That was in the spring, and she found she could not enter the institute till the following autumn. During the summer she employed her time constantly in studying the structure of fabrics by unraveling them and in making original designs, one of which w;is accepted by a prominent manufacturer, and she was the proud possessor of fifteen dollars, the first money she had earned. On entering Cooper Union in the fall, she found, much to her amazement, that her instructors, while they knew the principles of design and could teach them well, could not at that time teach any practical method of applying those principles to an industrial purpose. She began a course in drawing, of which she felt a great need, and occupied her afternoons in the particular study of carpet designing in the factory of E. S. Higgins, where six weeks of instruction had been offered free Her improvement was rapid. She subsequently visited the representative factories of nearly every art industry in the United States and thoroughly familiarized herself with the technicalities of design and workings of machinery in each. She became an instructor in Cooper Union in the art she had herself come there to learn but a few months before. That position she was obliged to resign on account of ill health. After spending three years in the West, she returned to New York and established herself as a practical designer. In a short time she received more work than she could do. Much of her time was consumed by women who came to her for information and instruction, which she gave Tree. On account of the large number who applied to her for help, she set aside certain hours for receiving them, and finally was obliged to give whole afternoons to their service. That was the beginning of the institution now known as the School of Industrial Art and Technical Design for Women, to which for the last twelve years Mrs. Cory has devoted her entire time, attempting but little work not directly devoted to her pupils. By a system of home instruction Mrs. Cory has taught pupils in every Slate and Territory in the United States, and several foreign countries. Mrs. Cory is a member of the society of the Daughters of the Revolution, of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and of the Daughters of 1812, and is president of the Society of Industrial Art for Women.