Today’s Birthday: FRANCES PERKINS (1880) Former US Secretary of Labor under the Franklin D.Roosevelt Presidency


Frances Perkins (1880)

Though Perkins was already extraordinarily accomplished by the time she was appointed US Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, the decision to appoint a woman to the cabinet was bitterly criticized by business and political leaders. In her unusually long 12-year term, Perkins advocated reforms such as a minimum wage, a maximum workweek, and unemployment compensation. She helped develop the Social Security Act of 1935

“The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience”

The current financial crisis is widely described as the nations worst since the Great Depression. With the comparisons to the 1930s has come a renewed focus on the New Deal, the government initiative of social programs and public service jobs launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A new book argues that no voice in the FDR administration was more influential in shaping the New Deal than Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first-ever woman cabinet member in the United States. The book is called The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDRs Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience. We speak with author Kirstin Downey. [includes rush transcript]

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