You can now place requests for physical library materials on this website. Be advised that items recently returned to the library may continue to appear on your account for a few days. For the safety of library customers and staff, returned materials are quarantined for a minimum of 96 hours before they are checked in. Please contact your local library for hold pickup instructions, or to ask any questions about returned items.

The woman behind the New Deal : the life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and his moral conscience

by Downey, Kirstin.

Format: Print Book 2009
Availability: Available at 8 Libraries 8 of 10 copies
Available (8)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Brookline Biographies HD8073.P38 D69 2009
Location  CLP - Brookline
Collection  Biographies
Call Number  HD8073.P38 D69 2009
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction HD8073.P38 D69 2009
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  HD8073.P38 D69 2009
Carnegie Library of McKeesport Biography B P418
Location  Carnegie Library of McKeesport
Collection  Biography
Call Number  B P418
Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison Non Fiction 92 PERKINS
Location  Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  92 PERKINS
Community Library of Castle Shannon Biography 92 PERKINS Frances
Location  Community Library of Castle Shannon
Collection  Biography
Call Number  92 PERKINS Frances
Dormont Public Library Non-Fiction 92 P41 PERK
Location  Dormont Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  92 P41 PERK
Monroeville Public Library Non-fiction 331.092 D
Location  Monroeville Public Library
Collection  Non-fiction
Call Number  331.092 D
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction 973.917 Dow
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  973.917 Dow
Unavailable (2)
Location Collection Status
CLP - Squirrel Hill Biographies IN TRANSIT
Location  CLP - Squirrel Hill
Collection  Biographies
Northland Public Library Biography CHECKED OUT
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Biography

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.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Much of the social reform that has made President Franklin D. Roosevelt so beloved Social Security, fair labor practices, minimum wage were actually ideas conceived and pushed by his labor secretary, Frances Perkins, the first female cabinet member and a woman constrained by the sexism of the era as well as her personal circumstances. Drawing on extensive archival research, Downey offers a riveting portrait of a determined social reformer who pushed a shrewd politician to make substantive changes in the American workplace. Early in her career as a social worker, Perkins witnessed the Triangle shirt factory fire that killed 146 workers. It was a pivotal point for her as she went on to lobby in Albany on behalf of workers, very consciously adopting a plain and dour look to remind the male legislators of their mothers and win more sympathy for her cause. Perkins was a politically savvy woman, able to adapt to Tammany Hall, New York Governor Al Smith, and, later, Governor Roosevelt, all along managing the boss's wife as well as the boss himself. As part of FDR's cabinet, she championed workers' rights through the Great Depression and World War II, helping to keep alive the International Labor Organization. As the nation struggles through its current economic crisis, this compelling biography is particularly timely.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2009 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "No individual--not even Eleanor Roosevelt--exerted more influence over the formulation of FDR's New Deal or did more to implement the programs than Frances Perkins (1880-1965). As former Washington Post staff writer Downey makes plain in this deeply researched biography, the first female Cabinet member was the primary shaper of such new concepts as unemployment insurance, the 40-hour work week and--last but not least--Social Security. At a time when the United States stands at the brink of another economic meltdown calling for sweeping federal interventions, Downey provides not only a superb rendering of history but also a large dose of inspiration drawn from Perkins's clearheaded, decisive work with FDR to solve urgent problems diligently and to succeed in the face of what seemed insurmountable odds. Confronting family issues--a frequently institutionalized husband with severe psychiatric problems; a deeply secret lesbian relationship with Mary Harriman Rumsey (sister of Averell Harriman); a daughter from whom she was often estranged--Perkins nevertheless exhibited tireless grace under pressure again and again, always rising to the occasion in the name of every and any progressive cause. (Mar. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Perkins, Frances, -- 1880-1965.
United States. -- Department of Labor -- Biography.
Women cabinet officers -- United States -- Biography.
Women social reformers -- United States -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Nan A. Talese/Doubleday,2009
Language English
Description xiii, 458 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [433]-444) and index.
ISBN 9780385513654
Other Classic View