"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Notable Americans: Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins (1882-1965)

Born in Boston, Frances Perkins earned her master's degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1910 and in the same year was named head of the New York Consumer's League, a position she used to press for better working hours and conditions for blue-collar workers. In 1911, she was eyewitness to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, an event which affected her profoundly.

On her marriage in 1913, Perkins went to court to retain her maiden name and succeeded. Over the next several years she held various positions in state government, including member and eventually the first female chair of the New York State Industrial Commission. Appointed state industrial commissioner by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1929, she reduced female workers' workweek to 48 hours, expanded investigations of factories and pressed for minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933 Roosevelt, now President of the United States, appointed Perkins as Secretary of Labor, making her the first female cabinet member in US history and the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession. In her twelve years as Secretary of Labor, Perkins played an essential role in forming and implementing Roosevelt's New Deal programs and in the creation and approval of the Social Security Act.

Read the Wikipedia article on Frances Perkins here.

0 rejoinders: