Images and brief biographies include politicians, administrators, lawyers, social workers, authors, journalists, painters, sculptors, musicians, secretaries, national park rangers, clerks and scientists.
Some individuals were known to the public during the Great Depression era, 1933-1945, and remembered by historians. While others operated behind the scenes and have been virtually forgotten. Most played significant roles in the numerous agencies, projects and New Deal programs of the federal government during a time of great adversity.
To better understand New Deal history the contributions made by these woman must be acknowledge. Through their efforts, big and small, they collectively and profoundly reshaped the relationship between the government and American citizens.
Long before Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the 32nd US president on March 4, 1933, the administrative and ideological attitudes of FDR and Frances Perkins had intersected, melded and seemingly became one.
Architect of the Civilian Conservation Corps Frances Perkins
The professional partnership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Frances Perkins was strengthened during Roosevelt’s 1929 – 1932 term as governor of New York. Recognizing Perkins understanding and grasp of complex government policies he appointed her Commissioner of New York State Industrial Commission. In this position Perkins supervised the health and safety of state workers; an appointment she managed with little difficulty. As a seasoned social worker, activist for public works, child labor, unemployment insurance, and workers’ rights advocate Perkins was able to tutor the then governor on the concept of “social insurance”.
First Woman Secretary of Labor
When FDR became President he selected “Miss Perkins” to be Secretary of Labor; the first woman ever appointed to a US cabinet position. Her tenure, as one of his closest and trusted advisers, would span FDR’s entire four term administration. A unique position which allowed her to observe, assist and analyze “the most complicated human being I ever knew.”
Theirs was a remarkable collaboration; one which empowered Perkins to frame and develop several of FDR’s New Deal programs and policies, among them the first and most successful, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).