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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 1982
Birth: 1880 - Death: 1965
Born In: Massachusetts, United States of America
Died In: New York, United States of America
Achievements: Government
Educated In: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York
Schools Attended: Worcester Classical High School, Mount Holyoke College, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University
Worked In: Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, California, District of Columbia

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Frances Perkins

From a comfortable background in Worcester, Massachusetts, Frances Perkins went to Mount Holyoke. There lecturers introduced her to the cause of social reform. While teaching in Chicago, she spent her free time at Hull House and she began to move into the new field of social work. She witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911. That tragedy stiffened her resolve to fight for better conditions for working people, especially women. After her husband had to be confined to an institution, she proceeded to support herself and raise their young daughter alone. She made conscious compromises to succeed as a career woman, adopting a grandmotherly style of dress she felt was less threatening to men. Perkins was appointed to Governor Al Smith's administration in Albany, serving on the Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Mediation and Arbitration. She continued to serve after Franklin Roosevelt was elected Governor. When FDR swept into the White House in 1932, he appointed Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor. She was the first woman cabinet officer in American history. After serving throughout Roosevelt's four terms, she continued to lecture and write, and taught at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Additional Sources:
Mohr, Lillian Holmen. Frances Perkins, that woman in FDR's cabinet! [Croton-on-Hudson, New York]: North River Press, c1979.

Martin, George Whitney. Madam Secretary, Frances Perkins. Boston: Houghton Mufflin, 1976.

Pasachoff, Naomi. Frances Perkins: Champion of the New Deal. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Report to the President of the Committee on Economic Security. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1935.

With J. Paul St. Sure. Two Views of American Labor. Los Angeles: Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, 1965.

Papers 1932-1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Hyde Park, New York.

Papers 1908-1963, 49,500 items. Columbia University, University Libraries, Butler Library. New York City, New York.