Nancy Green

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Portrait of Nancy Green as "Aunt Jemima" by A. B. Frost

Nancy Green (November 17, 1834 – August 30, 1923[1]) was a storyteller, cook, activist, and one of the first African-American models hired to promote a corporate trademark as "Aunt Jemima".[2]


Green was born into slavery on March 4, 1834 near Mount Sterling in Montgomery County, Kentucky.[3] She was hired in 1890[4] by the R.T. Davis Milling Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, to represent "Aunt Jemima", an advertising character named after a song from a minstrel show.[2] Davis Milling had recently acquired the formula to a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour from St. Joseph Gazette editor Chris L. Rutt and Charles Underwood and were looking to employ an African-American woman as a Mammy archetype to promote their new product.[5] In 1893 Green was introduced as Aunt Jemima at the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, where it was her job to operate a pancake-cooking display. Her amicable personality and talent as a cook helped establish a successful showing of the product, for which she received a medal and certificate from the Expo officials.[2] After the Expo, Green was offered a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix. This marked the beginning of a major promotional push by the company that included thousands of personal appearances and Aunt Jemima merchandising. Nancy Green maintained her job with Davis Milling (which was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914)[6] until her death in 1923.

Church organizing and philanthropy[edit]

Green was one of the organizers of the Olivet Baptist Church.[7] Her career allowed Green the financial freedom to become an activist and engage in antipoverty programs.[8]


Green died on August 30, 1923 in Chicago when a car collided with a truck and flipped over onto the sidewalk where she was standing.[1][7] She is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Death Notices". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Daily Tribune): p. 10. August 31, 1923. 
  2. ^ a b c "Nancy Green, the original "Aunt Jemima"". The African American Registry. 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  3. ^ Tom Eblen. "New location fitting for black history museum", Lexington Herald-Leader, February 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  4. ^ This is disputed, some sources say 1893
  5. ^ Manning, Maurice M. (1998). Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813918111. 
  6. ^ A History of Northwest Missouri Edited by Walter Williams - Published by The Lewis publishing company, 1915
  7. ^ a b "'Aunt Jemima' of Pancake Fame is Killed by Auto". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Daily Tribune): p. 13. September 4, 1923. 
  8. ^ Roberts, Diane (1994). The Myth of Aunt Jemima: Representations of Race and Region. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04918-0. 

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