Frances Perkins 1st Woman in the Cabinet Architect of the New Deal

Frances Perkins
1st Woman in the Cabinet
Architect of the New Deal

Women and Adversity: Frances Perkins

1st Woman in the U.S. Cabinet

Principal Architect of the New Deal

Franklin Roosevelt chose Frances Perkins to be his Secretary of Labor, the 1st woman to hold a Cabinet position. She had proven how passionate she was about workers’ rights and safety in the workplace.

Born Fannie Perkins in Boston in 1880, Fannie’s family was originally from Maine where they owned a farm. She grew up hearing stories of previous American wars and developed an appreciation for history.

She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a major in physics and minors in chemistry and biology and was senior class president. Her course in American economic history made her aware of the inequities in the workplace.

She changed her name to Frances, joined the Episcopal Church and dedicated her life to developing work programs, improving working conditions and assisting women in the workforce. As Secretary of Labor, she managed to help institute the minimum wage, working hour limitations and the Social Security Act.

She married Paul Wilson, an economist, in 1913, and the couple had a daughter in 1916. Frances Perkins died of a stroke in 1965.

More about Frances Perkins:

“The Woman Behind the New Deal” by Kirstin Downey

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

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