Frances G. Knight

Inducted: 1978
Born: 1905
Died: 1999

Frances Knight was the director of the U.S. Passport Office from 1955-1977. Known for her stern attitude and conservative policies, she transformed the Passport Office into an efficient infrastructure.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island on July 22, 1905, but raised in New York City, Frances Gladys Knight was destined for a bright future. Frances was first hired as a clerk for the Works Progress Administration. From there, she met and married Wayne W. Parrish, the editor of the American Aviator Publications, and the couple soon moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked for the State Department as a radio information specialist. Because of her marriage to a multi-millionaire, she became a popular socialite in the Washington, D.C. area.

She later transferred to the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs and in 1955 was handpicked by the Director of the U.S. Passport Office, Ruth Shipley, to replace her upon retirement. As the new director, Frances began by consolidating several units and branches and employed additional staff to divide the workload more equitably. She was known for her efficient work ethic and zeal in denying passports and entrance visas to those she regarded as enemies of the nation; she also allowed government officials to use her resources to monitor Americans deemed a danger to the state. According to the Washington Post, few could complain about the efficiency with which the Passport Office operated during her tenure. At the time of her retirement in 1977 the Passport Office was considered one of the government’s premier service bureaucracies.

A strong-willed woman, Knight was also outspoken on women’s rights issues. She complained about the lack of women in top management positions in the State Department.

Knight was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1978. She died in Washington on September 11, 1999.

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