Born Oct. 13, 1881, in Soubise, in the department of Charente-Maritime; died June 16, 1967, in Sèvres. Figure in the French and international democratic women's movement. A physicist and scholar (student of and collaborator with M. Sklodowska-Curie and P. Curie). Daughter of a petty trader.
In 1904, Cotton graduated from a women's pedagogical institute (Ecole Normale) in Sevres. She then taught in this institute and was simultaneously engaged in scientific research work. From 1936 to 1941 she served as the director and from 1945 until the end of her life as honorary director of this institute. In 1925 she defended her doctoral dissertation on the topic of the magnetic properties of salts in the solid state, which brought her scientific fame. In 1934, Cotton was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor for her successful scientific activity. During the occupation of France by fascist Germany (1940–44), she participated in the Resistance Movement. In 1945, Cotton was elected chairman of the Union of French Women. She was one of the founders of the Women's International Democratic Federation and its president from the day it was founded (December 1945). She was active in promoting the emergence of the international Peace Movement (1949) and was continuously part of its permanent agencies (in 1950 she became vice-chairman and in 1959, a member of the Presidium of the World Peace Council). Cotton received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Between Nations (1951).