New Dealish: May 13, Saint Frances Perkins Annual Feast Day

Emblem honoring Frances Perkins at St Andrews Episcopal Church near the Perkins’s homestead in Newcastle, Maine.

Emblem honoring Frances Perkins at St Andrews Episcopal Church near the Perkins’s homestead in Newcastle, Maine.
Photo by Susan Ives

Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve as a US Cabinet Secretary and the nation’s longest-serving Labor Secretary, serving the entirety of FDR’s presidency (1933-45). A witness to New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which 146 young women perished, Perkins became a life-long advocate for worker’s rights. Despite hostile pushback from industry and Republicans in Congress, as she nevertheless boldly shepherded legislation establishing worker safety standards, child labor regulations, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage and Social Security.

“If American history textbooks accurately reflected the past, Frances Perkins would be recognized as one of the nation’s greatest heroes— as iconic as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine,” says Yale Law School Professor Adam Cohen.In 1944, a piece portraying Frances Perkins in Collier’s magazine described her accomplishments over the previous twelve years as “not so much the Roosevelt New Deal, as … the Perkins New Deal.”

In recognition of her good works and enduring faith and exemplary contributions to the well-being of all people, in 2009 the Episcopal Church designated May 13 as an annual feast day in Perkins’s honor.
Perkins summed up her work simply: “I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen.”

One comment on “New Dealish: May 13, Saint Frances Perkins Annual Feast Day

  1. But who designed the brilliant Perkins Emblem?

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