Nellie Francis, 1912. From the St. Paul Appeal, July 27, 1912, p.3.

Nellie Francis in the "St. Paul Appeal"

Nellie Francis, 1912. From the St. Paul Appeal, July 27, 1912, p.3.

Nellie Francis and the Folk Song Coterie, from Musical America, August 3, 1910.

Nellie Francis and the Folk Song Coterie

Nellie Francis and the Folk Song Coterie, from Musical America, August 3, 1910.

Griswold’s high school graduation photograph, 1891. From St. Paul Central High School records, Minnesota Historical Society.

Nellie Griswold

Griswold’s high school graduation photograph, 1891. From St. Paul Central High School records, Minnesota Historical Society.

Francis, Nellie (1874–1969)

Nellie Francis pressed the limits of what an African American woman was permitted to achieve in early twentieth-century Minnesota. She was a churchwoman, clubwoman, suffragist, organizer, singer, civil rights worker, patriot, and wife to Minnesota’s first African American diplomat, William T. Francis.

Color image of the Francis residence at 2092 Sargent Avenue, St. Paul, 2016. Photographed by Paul Nelson.

The Francis residence at 2092 Sargent Avenue, St. Paul

The Francis residence at 2092 Sargent Avenue, St. Paul, 2016. Photographed by Paul Nelson.

Black and white photograph of Nellie Francis, ca. 1924. Image is from Foster, Mary Dillon. Who’s Who Among Minnesota Women (1924), p. 111.

Nellie Griswold Francis

Nellie Francis, ca. 1924. Image is from Foster, Mary Dillon. Who’s Who Among Minnesota Women (1924), p. 111.

Black and white photograph of William T. Francis, from Northwestern Bulletin Appeal, November 1, 1924.

William Francis

William T. Francis, from Northwestern Bulletin Appeal, November 1, 1924. This is the last known photograph of Francis.

Black and white photograph of a young W.T. Francis. The image is from the St. Paul Appeal, May 2, 1903, p. 3, when Francis was thirty-four, but shows Francis years earlier. This is the first known photograph of him.

Young William T. Francis

A young W.T. Francis. The image is from the St. Paul Appeal, May 2, 1903, when Francis was thirty-four, but shows Francis years earlier. This is the first known photograph of him.

Black and white photograph of William T. Francis, ca. 1904.

William T. Francis

William T. Francis, ca. 1904.

Francis, William T. (1869–1929)

William T. Francis, Minnesota’s first African American diplomat, served as U.S. Minister and Consul to Liberia, West Africa, from 1927 until his death. He investigated and reported on Liberian government complicity in the forced labor of Liberian men and died in Monrovia of yellow fever on July 15, 1929.

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