Frances Perkins: Champion of the New Deal

Frances Perkins: Champion of the New Deal

Frances Perkins: Champion of the New Deal

Frances Perkins: Champion of the New Deal

Synopsis

Frances Perkins (1880-1965) was the first woman appointed to a U.S. cabinet post and the longest-serving Secretary of Labor. Perkins had a long and illustrious record as a social activist: she reorganized New York state's factory inspections system, advocated the Workmen's Compensation Act,and promoted the legislative protection of women and child laborers. As U.S. Secretary of Labor under Roosevelt she helped develop major New Deal legislation, including the Social Security Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Always regarded with some hostility by both organized labor and thebusiness community, Perkins survived an attempt to impeach her in 1939. As one of the most distinguished and trailblazing women in the history of American government, Perkins is often studied in American history classes. Moreover, her career touched on issues key to our current debates aboutgovernment and social policy. This book is richly illustrated with documents and rare photographs. Oxford Portraits is a new series of biographies for young adults. Written by prominent writers and historians, each of these titles is designed to supplement the core texts of the middle and high school curriculum with intriguing, thoroughly informative and insightful accounts of the lives and workof the notable men and women who helped shape history. Each book is illustrated with numerous graphics, photographs, and documents. A unique feature is the inclusion of sidebars containing primary source material, mostly excerpts from the subject's writings. A chronology, further reading list, andindex rounds out every volume.

Excerpt

In The Roosevelt I Knew, Frances Perkins’s biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, she wrote, “If this book can help to establish the real… leader by getting closer to the man himself, I shall feel that I have done him some service.” Although I was not lucky enough to know Frances Perkins at all, and in writing her biography certainly could not draw on a 35-year social and professional connection like the one she had with Roosevelt, I hope, nonetheless, that this book will provide readers a service by bringing them closer to the remarkable woman who is its subject.

Throughout The Roosevelt I Knew, there is much material that sheds light on Perkins’s own life and achievement. The chapter titles for the present book all come from her Roosevelt biography. An even richer source for Perkins’s biographer, however, is The Reminiscences of Frances Perkins, a series of long interviews she gave under the auspices of Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office over a four-year period in the 1950s. Except where otherwise indicated, all quotations from Perkins in this book come from the transcripts of the oral history.

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