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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Fannie Marie Tolson papers

Repository: State Historical Society of Missouri

Collection Description (Extant): Fannie Marie Tolson was the first African-American educator to teach in the desegregated schools of Fayette, Missouri. Her papers include family correspondence and photographs, memorabilia from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, teaching aids, documents concerning St. Paul's Methodist Church in Fayette, and recordings of two interviews conducted with Tolson.

[...] Fannie Marie Tolson was born on 20 August 1911 to Ernest Willoughby Tolson and Anne Bell Hill Tolson. Her father owned a farm outside of Fayette, Missouri and her mother had been a school teacher prior to her marriage.

Tolson attended Lincoln School in Fayette until 1928. Because Fayette did not have a high school for African-Americans, Tolson sued and the school district was forced to pay her tuition and room and board at Lincoln University High School in Jefferson City, Missouri. She continued her education at Lincoln University after high school and earned a degree in teaching in 1934. She was the first in her family to earn a college degree.

She taught at Bowling Green (Missouri) High School in 1936 and then at Sumner High School in Boonville, Missouri, from 1937 to 1949, when she returned to Fayette to care for her mother. In 1952, she began teaching at Lincoln School in Fayette and served as principal there from 1960 to 1966. When the schools were integrated in 1966, Tolson moved to Fayette Intermediate School where she remained until her retirement in 1977, although she substituted in the school system for many more years.

She helped form the Human Development Corporation in Howard County and also the Human Enterprise Organization, for which she served as Vice-President in 1990. In 1965, she helped organize Howard County's first Head Start program.

Tolson was a lifelong member of St. Paul's Methodist Church and served as its historian and co-chair of the administrative board. She later became certified as a lay speaker for the United Methodist Church.

In 1976, Governor Kit Bond made her an honorary Bicentennial Commissioner and in 2000, she was a speaker at the opening of an exhibit at the State Capitol on Missouri Segregated Schools. In 2005, she was selected as the first recipient of the "Missouri Treasure Award" and was the co-grand marshal of Fayette's Juneteenth parade.

Tolson died on 27 August 2005.

Date(s): 1890s-2005

Existing IDs: C1704

Extent: 2.3 linear feet, 3 audio cassettes, 2 video cassettes, 1 dvd

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: At the State Historical Society of Missouri, St. Louis, see also the Maggie Peoples Papers. Peoples was a St. Louis civil rights leader; the collection includes material from the National Council of Negro Women, Women in Community Service, St. Louis Bicentennial Committee, and a photograph and interview.

Interviewees: Fannie Marie Tolson

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American educators--Missouri
African American students--Missouri
Head Start Program (U.S.)
Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.)
School integration--Missouri
United Methodist Church


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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