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Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins
Usage Conditions Apply
William Sharp, 1900 - 1961
Frances Perkins, 10 Apr 1880 - 14 May 1965
c. 1935
Ink and pencil on paper
Sheet: 40.6 × 26 cm (16 × 10 1/4")
Mat: 71.1 × 55.9 cm (28 × 22")
Costume\Dress Accessory\Eyeglasses\Pince-nez
Frances Perkins: Female
Frances Perkins: Literature\Writer
Frances Perkins: Education and Scholarship\Educator\Lecturer
Frances Perkins: Society and Social Change\Reformer\Social reformer
Frances Perkins: Politics and Government\Cabinet member\Secretary of Labor
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Boston, Massachusetts
The first female cabinet member in the United States, Frances Perkins served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945. Her early interest in activist causes such as the abolition of child labor and sweatshops led her to study economics and sociology at Columbia University. In 1911 she became the executive secretary of the newly formed Committee on Safety of the City of New York, where her work connected her to local assembly leaders. Her advocacy of legislative reform led Al Smith, governor of New York, to name her to the state’s industrial commission in 1919, where she was the highest-salaried female state employee in the nation. Roosevelt, Smith’s successor as governor, then named her to his cabinet when he was inaugurated president in 1933. She shaped policies of social responsibility such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, but also public works projects and the Social Security Act.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery