Written by Sichu Mali, summer intern
I knew that Frances Perkins had worked for the Consumers’ League of New York after receiving her Master’s degree in 1910. I had also known from reading Kirsten Downey’s biography, The Woman Behind the New Deal, that after retiring from her public service job in 1953, Frances had pursued teaching at Cornell from 1956-1965.
However, I wondered what she was involved with after she had retired in 1953 but before she had begun her Cornell employment as a lecturer in 1956. I wondered about this missing link.
Last week, I came across a booklet from the Frances Perkins Branch Library at Greendale and it has helped me uncover this information about Frances’s career that has not been mentioned much in her biographies. Given below is the chronology of her achievements that was published in it.
1907– Secretary of Philadelphia Research and Protective Association, a group organized to assist immigrant working girls
1910– Received her M.D.A. in Sociology from Columbia University
1910– Names executive secretary of the Consumers’ League of New York; lobbied state legislators for social reforms
1912-1913– Investigator for New York State Factory Committee
1912-1913– Executive Secretary of the Committee on Safety
During World War I, served as the director of the New York Council of Organizations for War Services
1919– Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed Perkins to the New York Industrial Board
1921-1923– Director of Council on Immigrant Education
1923– Named to State Industrial Board (Chair in 1926)
1929– Governor Roosevelt appointed her Industrial Commissioner of New York
1933– President Roosevelt appointed Perkins Secretary of Labor. She was the first woman in the cabinet.
1934– Wrote People at Work
1935– Passage of Social Security Act, the basis for which was a report of the Committee on Economic Security, which Perkins chaired.
1935– Passage of National Labor Relations Act, which she worked on
1938– Worked on Wages and Hours Act
1945– Resigned as Secretary of Labor
1946- 1953– Served as U.S. Civil Service Commissioner
1946– Author of The Roosevelt I Knew
1953– Lecturer at the University of Illinois
1955– Lecturer at the University of Salzburg, Austria
1956-1965– Lecturer at School of Industrial Relations of Cornell University