The First Woman to Hold a Cabinet Position: Frances Perkins

On April 10 1880, Frances Perkins , the first woman to hold a cabinet position, was born in Boston. Raised in Worcester, she attended Mt. Holyoke College, where she became committed to improving the lot of working people.

Many years later, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president, he named Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor. “Madam Secretary,” as she was called, was instrumental in establishing the Social Security system, winning minimum wage laws and bargaining rights for workers, and ending child labor.

Looking back, she remembered feeling that she had a “duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant . . . to sit in the high seats.”

More about Perkins.

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About emanita01

I am a Franco-american woman who hails from Massachusetts. I live in France near the Swiss border, only minutes away from Geneva. I am a member of the Geneva Writers Group and the Association La Forge, a literary group based in France. I write stories, poems and am currently working on a couple of plays, a one-woman show and a dramatized poem.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Why Are We Here?, Women & Wisdom, Women Sharing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The First Woman to Hold a Cabinet Position: Frances Perkins

  1. Thank you again for showing me stuff. I’ve never heard of Frances Perkins before. I went to the page and read the whole thing. Very,very good. There’s a movie called “Iron Jawed Angels” with Hillary Swank that shows a lot of the REAL story of Women’s Suffrage. It was a real eye opener. In fact I had always had great admiration f Woodrow Wilson until I saw this movie. He did great things but he failed most of this issue.
    Another interesting woman is Hattie Caraway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hattie_Carraway
    With the exception of her siding with the south on some racial matters she did an excellant job advancing progressive social policies. I believe that she had one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Thanks again.

    • emanita01 says:

      Hi there. Glad you enjoyed this post. I didn’t know about Ms Perkins ether. A woman friend who I consider to be my sage emailed it to me. I so enjoyed what I learned that I posted it immediately after I received the information.

      I thank you for your link to Hattie Caraway and look forward to discovering her story. I’ve never seen the movie you mentioned, it sounds quite interesting though. If ever I get the chance…

      By the way, the above post contains two sources of information on Perkins.
      Did you also click on her date of birth?

      Thanks for this exchange; It’s what my blog’s all about ;-D.

    • emanita01 says:

      Hey, this is most interesting fodder!

      I read the article your link took me to and discovered that “following the precedent of appointing widows to temporarily take their husbands’ places, Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office on December 9, [1931]. With the Arkansas Democratic party’s backing, she easily won a special election in January 1932 for the remaining months of the term, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate.”

      Meanwhile, from the article link in my post I read that: “Frances Perkins was secretary of labor for the 12 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and the first woman to hold a Cabinet post…/…March 4, 1933 to June 30, 1945.”

      I’m no expert on the difference between a senatorial appointment and a cabinet appointment but, judging alone the dates of their respective appointments, obviously, Mrs Caraway was the first to hold a political office. Perhaps the difference is that she was not initially appointed but stepped into the place left by her deceased husband?

      Maybe you can enlighten me as to the differences in their positions?
      Or, perhaps it is that these surprising women were both forerunners in their respective political arenas.

  2. Yeah, I did the birthday page also. Yeah that movie is really about Alice Paul’s fight for women sufferage and I had never heard of her before. The reason why is because she was so forceful in life that she ended up alienating many of the other women sufferage workers. I’ll be back. Thanks.

  3. I wouldn’t be a good one to be able to make any comparison. I only know of Hattie Caraway because when I used to be a political junkie I read a lot about Huey Long, the Governor/Dictator of Louisiana. When he was in the Senate he happened to see that Hattie was voting the same liberal way that he was and felt that he had found [une] confidante. He played an important role in getting her reelected but it was her own good sense that made a difference in the world. My wife is from Louisiana so I studied all things about it. My biggest regret is that I haven’t learned French. History is so fascinating. I’ll be back again.

    • emanita01 says:

      Thanks for the additional info. Hmmm, I just felt a reluctance regarding reading up on Long. Could it be the word “Dictator” that disinterests me? Or, maybe that he wasn’t a woman in the foreground back when it wasn’t à la mode to be so?
      Personal fodder for thought here ;-D

      BTW, as for learning French…c’est jamais trop tard…that is, it’s never too late to try something new, ne c’est pas ? (Is it?) 🙂

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