Frances Perkins

“The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.”

Frances Perkins

(April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965)

Frances Perkins was an American workers-rights advocate who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

After witnessing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire when factory workers, mostly young and impoverished women, were locked within the factory and could not escape the fire, she was fully motivated to ensure the safety, protection and rights of the American worker. 

We have her to thank for much of the New Deal: the shorter work week, the establishment of a minimum wage, the prohibition of child labor, workplaces up to code, and a social security net for all Americans.

Also, as part of the New Deal, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was created and implemented at the height of the Great Depression. The WPA sought to eradicate high unemployment by placing millions of skilled and unskilled workers in a broad range of jobs covering everything from the construction of infrastructure and public structures to the arts and manufacturing. Many of these WPA murals still remain intact across the country.

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