A Feminist a Day: Frances Perkins

Who is she?

frances perkinsFrances Perkins was America’s first ever female Cabinet member and was Secretary of Labor in Franklin Roosevelt’s government.

Her influence helped steer some of the USA’s most important ever social changes – the “New Deal”, the creation of Social Security and establishing the minimum wage.

Frances was a social worker who became head of the New York Consumers League. She kept her name when she married (pretty rare back then) – defending her right to do so in court, no less.

While in New York, she witnessed the infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which claimed the lives of 146 young women – she would later say that was the day the New Deal began. She was on committees to investigate the fire and dedicated herself to workers’ rights.

Why should we thank her?

Frances is known as the Mother of Social Security – so, literally hundreds of millions of Americans can thank her for supporting them when they may not have been able to do so themselves.

Personally, I love the fact that she went to court to uphold the right to keep her name when she married. I’m sure she’d roll over in her grave if she knew how many women change their names when they marry today.

Best quote 

“Feminism means revolution and I am a revolutionist.”


A Feminist a Day: Frances Perkins

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