The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience
“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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Review: The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral ConscienceUser Review - Stephen - Goodreads
"The Secret of Frances' success was that she had done what she did selflessly, without hope of personal gain or public recognition, for those who would come afterward... It is a great historic irony ... Read full review
Review: The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral ConscienceUser Review - David - Goodreads
This book caused me to stop and think about the many issues that have always been with our American political landscape and how an individual person like Frances Perkins can leave a very large mark on ... Read full review
SKELETDNS IN THE LABOR DEPARTMENT
JUMPSTARTING THE ECONOMY
AT HOME WITH MARY HARRIMAN
Ky er REFUGEES AND REGULATIONS
LABOR SHAKES orr ns swmam
4A1 1 FAMILY PROBLEMS
Iﬁf1 THE WAR COMES
1 END or THE TRUMAN ERA