Today, August 14, marks the 82nd anniversary of the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935. Frances Perkins, who served as Secretary of Labor under FDR for the entirety of his presidency and who was the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, was a driving force behind the legislation.
As a college student at the turn of the century, Perkins visited mills in Massachusetts to observe working conditions, which sparked her interest in labor. In the 1910s, as a resident of New York City, she advocated for sanitary regulations, fire protection, and limited working hours for women and children. When FDR became governor of New York in 1928, he appointed Perkins to serve as the state's Industrial Commissioner, and when he was elected president in 1932, he asked her to serve as Secretary of Labor.
As Secretary of Labor, Perkins left her mark on our country through the Social Security Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and numerous New Deal public works programs, among other things.
You can read more about this remarkable woman and her role in the New Deal here.
This article was submitted by Ellen Pactor, Indiana Court of Appeals. If you would like to write or submit content for the Women & the Law Division page please contact Kim Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.