The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience (Google eBook)

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Mar 3, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
11 Reviews
“Kirstin Downey’s lively, substantive and—dare I say—inspiring new biography of Perkins . . . not only illuminates Perkins’ career but also deepens the known contradictions of Roosevelt’s character.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air
 
One of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s closest friends and the first female secretary of labor, Perkins capitalized on the president’s political savvy and popularity to enact most of the Depression-era programs that are today considered essential parts of the country’s social safety network.

Frances Perkins is no longer a household name, yet she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. Based on eight years of research, extensive archival materials, new documents, and exclusive access to Perkins’s family members and friends, this biography is the first complete portrait of a devoted public servant with a passionate personal life, a mother who changed the landscape of American business and society.

Frances Perkins was named Secretary of Labor by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. As the first female cabinet secretary, she spearheaded the fight to improve the lives of America’s working people while juggling her own complex family responsibilities. Perkins’s ideas became the cornerstones of the most important social welfare and legislation in the nation’s history, including unemployment compensation, child labor laws, and the forty-hour work week.

Arriving in Washington at the height of the Great Depression, Perkins pushed for massive public works projects that created millions of jobs for unemployed workers. She breathed life back into the nation’s labor movement, boosting living standards across the country. As head of the Immigration Service, she fought to bring European refugees to safety in the United States. Her greatest triumph was creating Social Security.

Written with a wit that echoes Frances Perkins’s own, award-winning journalist Kirstin Downey gives us a riveting exploration of how and why Perkins slipped into historical oblivion, and restores Perkins to her proper place in history.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - storyjunkie - LibraryThing

Giving background into Miss Perkins' character and the issues she battled and held dear, Downey gives the reader insight into a woman that bent to tasks she believed were right, regardless of the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ACQwoods - LibraryThing

Eleanor Roosevelt gets a lot of credit for being a powerful woman but Frances Perkins was unbelievable. She was the first ever female cabinet secretary. She spent her whole life fighting for laborers ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »

Contents

06N
6
CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH
23
THE TRIANGLE SHIRIWAISl FIRE
33
TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND FRANCES PERKINS
46
A GOOD MATCH
54
MARRIED LIFE
61
MOTHERHOOD
67
THE INDOMITABLE AL SMITH
75
SKELETDNS IN THE LABOR DEPARTMENT
138
JUMPSTARTING THE ECONOMY
149
AT HOME WITH MARY HARRIMAN
160
Ky er REFUGEES AND REGULATIONS
187
LABOR SHAKES orr ns swmam
206
4A1 1 FAMILY PROBLEMS
256
Ifif1 THE WAR COMES
334
1 END or THE TRUMAN ERA
374

FDR AND AL SMITH 33
88
WITH THE ROOSEVELTS IN ALBANY
96
FDR BECOMES PRESIDENT
106
FRANCES BECOMES SECRETARY OF LABOR
114
THE PIONEER
126
NOTES
399
BIBLIOGRAPHY
433
INDEX
445
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Kirstin Downey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, where she was a staff writer from 1988 to 2008, winning press association awards for her business and economic reporting. She shared in the 2008 Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Post staff for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. In 2000, she was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University. She lives in Washington, D.C.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Bibliographic information