The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

A Couple with Unwavering Determination

In General on June 22, 2009 at 10:18 am

By Sichu Mali, summer intern

Judy and Kevin Simpson

Judy and Kevin Simpson

Last Wednesday evening, I was listening to Ed Desgrosseilliers at the 2009 Watering Can Awards Celebration program as he was presenting The Social Landscape Artist Award to Kevin and Judy Simpson. I was impressed with the vigor that the Simpson couple brought to the stage.

What struck me the most about them was the sheer amount of time that they had dedicated to social justice causes. They have been involved in civil rights and community service for well over four decades. In the 1960s, they had worked with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Congress On Racial Equality to end school segregation and housing discrimination. Besides striving for racial equality, they had also advocated for peace and non violence. They had been active in the movement to bring U.S. troops home from Vietnam. Besides, they had led the local chapter of Neighbor to Neighbor while disapproving U.S.-funded violence in Central America. Their commitment to social justice has been not limited to race and peace issues. Lately, they have joined Maine People’s Alliance and are now campaigning for single-payer health care, fair taxation and the Employee Free Choice Act- an act that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts.

One could not help but be touched with their unwavering determination. Even after all these years, they are still actively pushing for social and economic reforms. Their faith in a progressive society still remains strong. As Judy would say, “Injustice is not a permanent feature of the world. We just keep at it and along the way, we manage to inspire others.”

The issues championed by the Simpsons were the issues Frances Perkins had defended throughout her life. Minimum wage, collective bargaining, employment assistance, social security and unemployment insurance were the topics that Frances included in the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Social Security Act when she drafted them. At Frances Perkins Center, we honor her vision and serve to raise awareness of Frances’s work. As a part of a project for this event, I put together an exhibit about Frances Perkins and the Frances Perkins Center which is displayed below:

Exhibit

Exhibit

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The Typewriter Mystery — Solved

In Biography on June 12, 2009 at 11:35 am

By Sichu Mali, summer intern

I have arrived at The Frances Perkins Center as a summer intern to help catalog and research letters, documents, and other belongings of Frances Perkins and her family. The first item that I examined at The Brick House (the Perkins family home) was a typewriter that belonged to Frances Perkins. The typewriter manufacturer is the Remington Rand company. According to a Times-Herald article published on June 27, 1945, it had been presented to her when she resigned from the U.S. Department of Labor. The article, titled “1,800 in Labor Department Say Au Revoir to Mme. Perkins,” mentions that a gift fund of $373 collected by the department employees had enabled them to give her a few things she wanted, which included this standard-size typewriter. She had expressed her wish to receive a typewriter for her personal use as the government was not going to provide her with typewriters after June 30, 1945.

Another article about the gift, in the June 27, 1945, edition of the Washington Daily News, told this story:

Excerpt from Washington Daily News article

During my research, I also came across articles on the Remington Rand strike of 1936-37. In 1936, a federal union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) had called a strike against the management of the Remington Rand company, which was the largest manufacturer of office supplies at that time. In retaliation, the company administration made use of scare tactics (now called the Mohawk Valley formula) to force the workers to withdraw their strike. After much difficulty, the union workers and the management were finally able to reach an agreement after a session mediated by Frances Perkins.

The going-away present

The going-away present

1 “1,800 in Labor Department Say Au Revoir to Mme. Perkins”, Times-Herald, June 27, 1945.
2 “It’s Farewell to Faithful Fanny Perkins,” The Washington Daily News, June 1945.
3 “Approve Rand Peace Plan,” New York Times, April 21, 1937; “Strikers Approve Rand Peace Terms,” New York Times, April 22, 1937.

Our summer intern

In The Center on June 4, 2009 at 7:09 am

We are very pleased to welcome our first summer intern to the Frances Perkins Center. Her name is Sichu and she’ll be a senior at Mount Holyoke College next fall. Sichu is an international student and hails from Katmandu. She’s a sociology major at Mount Holyoke, and plans to go to law school after graduation.

Yesterday, we took a tour of scenic places near the Frances Perkins Center. Here's Sichu on the rocks in front of the Pemaquid Lighthouse.

Yesterday, we took a tour of scenic places near the Frances Perkins Center. Here's Sichu on the rocks in front of the Pemaquid Lighthouse.

Sichu will spend the summer cataloguing papers and memorabilia at the Center and helping with office tasks.