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Perkins, Frances

Perkins, Frances

Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965, U.S. Secretary of Labor (1933-45), b. Boston. She worked at Hull House, was executive secretary of the New York Consumers' League (1910-12) and of the New York Committee on Safety (1912-17), and directed (1912-13) investigations for the New York state factory commission. She became an authority on industrial hazards and hygiene and began lobbying in Albany for more comprehensive factory laws and for maximum-hour laws for women. Gov. Alfred E. Smith appointed (1923) her to the New York State Industrial Board, and later she served (1926-29) as its chairman. Gov. Franklin Delano Roosevelt named her (1929) industrial commissioner of New York state to direct the enforcement of factory and labor laws. As President, Roosevelt appointed her U.S. Secretary of Labor—the first appointment of a woman to the U.S. cabinet. Her appointment was bitterly criticized by business, labor, and political leaders. As Secretary of Labor, she promoted adoption of the Social Security Act, advocated higher wages, urged legislation to alleviate industrial strife, and helped standardize state industrial legislation. After she resigned, she served (1946-52) as a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Besides books on labor problems, she wrote The Roosevelt I Knew (1946).
orig. Fannie Coralie Perkins

(born April 10, 1882, Boston, Mass., U.S.—died May 14, 1965, New York, N.Y.) U.S. public official. She became a social worker in New York City and a leader in organizations aiming to improve working conditions for women. From 1929 to 1933 she served as state industrial commissioner under New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt. As president, Roosevelt appointed her U.S. secretary of labor; she thereby became the first woman to hold a U.S. cabinet post. In her long term of office (1933–45) she advocated reforms such as a minimum wage, a maximum workweek, and unemployment compensation; she also helped draft the Social Security Act and supervised the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938). She was later a U.S. Civil Service commissioner (1945–53).

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The name is of Welsh origin from Perthyn, relative or belonging to a particular person or family, and also thought to be the Anglicized form of Peredur, from Medieval Welsh. It is also found throughout mid and southern England.

Last or surname Perkins

First or middle name Perkins

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