Frances Ravenel Smythe Edmunds achieved national recognition as an advocate for historic preservation. She graduated from the College of Charleston in 1939. In 1947 she was the founding director of the Historic Charleston Foundation and served until her retirement in 1985. Under Mrs. Edmunds's leadership, the foundation played a major role in the preservation of the City of Charleston's unique architecture and character. President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and she was a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation at Monticello. In 1971, the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented Mrs. Edmunds its highest honor, the Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award.