Frances Perkins (1880 - 1965)
Frances Perkins was secretary of labor for the 12 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency and the first woman to hold a Cabinet post. She brought to her office a deep commitment to improving the lives of workers and creating a legitimate role for labor unions in American society, succeeding admirably on both counts. Always a consummate politician, Perkins profoundly influenced the political agenda of her day, moving it closer to the values she embraced: economic justice and security for all Americans.
Born in Boston in 1880, Perkins grew up in a comfortable middle-class Republican family descended from a long line of Maine farmers and craftsmen. When Perkins was two, the family moved to Worcester, Mass., where her father opened a profitable stationery business. Her parents were devoted Congregationalists and instilled in Perkins an earnest desire to "live for God and do something." At Mount Holyoke College, she began to understand just what that meant. Perkins majored in the natural sciences, but she studied economic history, read How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis' expose of the New York slums, and attended lectures by labor and social reformers such as Florence Kelley, general secretary of the National Consumer's League.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Posted by David Ballela at 1:38 PM