Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Frances Perkins

1880-1965
From: United States: Massachusetts, New York
Fields: Government and Politics, Management and Labor Relations
Key Words/Phrases: U.S. Secretary of Labor, U.S. Cabinet
 
Perkins, Frances (1882-1965), American social reformer, who became the first female member of the cabinet when United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt named her secretary of labor in 1933. Perkins was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. In her various positions, Perkins defended the interests of working people, and advocated social security, unemployment compensation, minimum wage and maximum hours, and child welfare legislation. She was a member of the New York State Industrial Board from 1923 to 1926 and its chairperson from 1926 to 1929. In 1929 Roosevelt, then governor of New York, appointed her state industrial commissioner. As secretary of labor, Perkins became one of the most important executors of Roosevelt's New Deal program. She resigned the position in June 1945, two months after Roosevelt's death, and in the following year was appointed a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, on which she served until 1953. Her writings include A Plan for Maternity Care (1918) and The Roosevelt I Knew (1946).

"Perkins, Frances" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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