Pioneering Women and Early Government Leaders

Frances Willis

39-cent Frances E. Willis stamp
The Frances E. Willis stamp was issued on May 29, 2006.

In 1927, Frances Willis (1899-1983) joined the Foreign Service, beginning a historic career. During her time as secretary in the U.S. legation in Stockholm in 1934, Frances assumed the responsibilities of the minister in his absence. Francis became the first U.S. woman to serve as a chief of missions abroad. She quickly rose through the ranks to become an ambassador, serving in places around the world and in the United Nations. She was an extraordinary diplomat who remained active even in retirement. She was honored by the U.S. Postal Service as one of five trailblazing diplomats in the Distinguished American Diplomats series.