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Frances Alice Kellor

(1873–1952) Frances attended Cornell Law School, a rarity in the late 19th century. After graduating in 1897, she became involved in the growing Progressive movement, with a special focus in immigration and crime, which were controversial topics of the era. Frances believed that crime was the product not of one's nature but of one's circumstance, pushing against the prevailing beliefs of the time that suggested immigrants - especially those from Southern and Eastern Europe - were more prone to criminality. She worked on immigration issues for New York State, and became the President of the National Americanization Committee, dedicated to instilling American ideals in immigrants as a method of reducing crime and poverty. She also focused on the plight of African Americans, increasingly moving to northern cities during the early decades of the 1900s in what has come to be called the First Great Migration.

Frances attempted to create a better safety net for African Americans, and especially African American women, in the difficult transition to northern, urban living. In 1911, the organization she founded—the Inter-Municipal League for Household Research—formed with other agencies to become the National Urban League, a well-known social justice, social reform, and civil rights organization.

Active in Progressive politics, Frances participated in Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 campaign for President, arguing in favor of suffrage for women. She played a similar role in Charles Evans Hughes' 1916 campaign, leading a controversial train tour in support of the candidate. By the early 1920s, she had begun working in areas of international policy. She authored a study on the League of Nations' ability to adjudicate conflict, and became heavily involved in the process of arbitration and conflict management, helping to form the American Arbitration Association (AAA), still in existence today. Later in her life, she turned away from her earlier Americanization beliefs, seeing them as paternalistic, and began to promote the concept of the 'International Human Being'. She was a labor advocate, pushing for clean workspaces and better worker treatment, and was also a transformative force in women's sports, having been involved in rowing and basketball from her time as a college student. Frances—who changed her name from Alice while in law school—is believed to have been transgender, often dressing in manners more typically male at the time; she claimed to often be shunned for her male style of dress and hair. She carried on a long, most likely romantic, relationship with the social reformer Mary Dreier, with whom she lived starting in 1905.


Green-Wood Cemetery

Section 167, Lot 17004

500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Kings County

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