Marie Louise Wilcox Snellings, one of the first women to earn a law degree from Tulane University, became a successful politician in northeastern Louisiana. She was elected to the school board and then the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. As the first female member of the Tulane Board of Administrators, she used her legal education to research issues surrounding desegregation in the 1950s. Well known as an excellent cook, she also wrote a popular cookbook and several children’s books. When she was over fifty years of age, she bought and successfully ran a 600-acre farm in Caldwell Parish, growing cotton and soybeans and breeding cattle.
Mary Louise Wilcox was born on November 24, 1912, in New Orleans to Frank Delonson and Stella Burkenroad Wilcox. She attended Newcomb College and graduated from Tulane University’s Law School in 1933. She then earned a master’s in law from Columbia University in New York City. She married one of her professors there, attorney George M. Snellings, Jr., of Monroe. During World War II, the Navy sent them to Washington, DC, where she did research for Senator Allen Ellender from Houma and learned to cook.
After the war, the couple became active in Republican politics and attended national conventions; she was once an alternate delegate. She ran for the Ouachita Parish School Board in 1964, the same year Barry Goldwater ran for president. Snellings put her sign in the window of Republican headquarters, but soon discovered it had been removed. When she asked why, Snellings was told that the party did not want her to hurt Goldwater’s chances. Undeterred, Snellings campaigned door to door and won, while Goldwater was soundly defeated. After the election, she changed her registration to the Democratic Party. In the 1970s, she won the fifth congressional district’s seat on the newly created State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and served until the early 1990s.
Snellings was a founding member of the Riverside Riding Club, and her political advertisements sometimes showed her astride a horse. She was also active in the Junior League and other civic organizations. The Snellings home, an old country club that had been renovated, was often used for social and political gatherings. The parents of two children, Snellings and her husband adopted a third child, Frank, from Ireland in 1954. He is now married to Senator Mary Landrieu. Marie Snellings died February 2, 1994, in Monroe.
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Chicago Manual of Style
Blue, Ellen. "Marie Louise Snellings." In KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published March 16, 2011. http://www.knowla.org/entry.php?rec=897.
Blue, Ellen. "Marie Louise Snellings." KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 16 Jan. 2011. Web. 24 May. 2013.
Would you like to learn more about this topic from books and other reading materials?
Marie Louise Snellings, oral history recorded by Debbie Edgerton in 1986 for the Junior League, Special Collections, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe.
___. Cook with Marie Louise. Baton Rouge, LA: Claitor’s, 1977.
Mohr Clarence L., and Joseph E. Gordon. Tulane: The Emergence of a Modern University, 1945–1980. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2001.