The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

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.

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