Dr. Francis Kneeland – Forgotten Hero

Dr. Frances M. “Fannie” Kneeland worked as an early role model for young black females who would have ended up in prison if it had not been for Doctor Kneeland. Frances Kneeland was born in 1873 a first generation black female doctor and the second female doctor in Memphis. She was one of the first black female doctors in the United States, and graduated with honors in 1894 from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Dr. Kneeland’s specialty was obstetrics and gynecology .

In 1908 she lived at 615 St Paul Avenue with a daughter Lenora. She later moved to 825 Walker Avenue which is the site of LeMoyne Owen College. Her name first appeared in Memphis City Directories in 1907 and 1908. Her office was located at 168 Beale Avenue.

Dr. Kneeland was a highly respected member of the medical community and was a woman of impeccable character. In 1923 she was head of nursing instruction at the University of West Tennessee Medical College.

Juvenile Court Judge Camille Kelly thought of her as a role model and would send delinquent and indigent black girls to her. She had a good track record of helping them find their way in life and to become respectable citizens. Along with professionals and attorneys, black physicians formed the upper crust of the black community.

For reasons completely unknown to anyone, Kneeland left Memphis and went to live with relatives in Chicago.

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