Franklin D. Roosevelt Appoints Perkins as Secretary of Labor (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: The appointment of Frances Perkins as the first female secretary of labor showed that women could play a key role in national politics.
Summary of Event
Franklin Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins as secretary of labor on February 28, 1933. She took office on March 4, 1933, and served until July 1, 1945. For Perkins, the appointment recognized almost thirty years of distinguished service as a social worker and civil servant with nationally recognized expertise in labor relations. For Roosevelt, this was a practical way to seek the support of female Progressive reformers, who had few visible political achievements to show for the attainment of suffrage in 1920. By appointing Perkins, Roosevelt secured a cabinet member who had recognized national expertise in the area overseen by her department. She provided greater integrity than would have a man recommended by the American Federation of Labor, since she possessed an independent background that allowed critical thinking and did not force allegiance to labor union positions.
Perkins was the daughter of Fred and Susan Perkins, both of colonial stock. They anticipated that their talented daughter’s primary career would be as wife and mother, although they were unconventional in encouraging her to graduate from Worcester Classical High School in 1898 and Mount Holyoke College in 1902. The Perkinses provided financial assistance to their...
(The entire section is 1842 words.)
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