Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal

Governor Roosevelt > With Governor Roosevelt

Governor Roosevelt and Department Heads

Photograph, Albany, New York, ca. 1929

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 61

Governor Roosevelt and his department heads, Albany, in the Executive Chamber.

Gift of Frances Perkins

New York State Department of Labor

Workmen’s Compensation Law and Industrial Board Rules … Issued Under the Direction of Frances Perkins Industrial Commissioner

[Albany, New York]: Bureau of Statistics and Information, 1930

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 151

Perkins’s interest in occupational diseases is clearly shown by her annotations in this copy of the 1930 New York State Workmen’s Compensation Law, the only part of the booklet with annotations.

Gift of Susanna Perkins Coggeshall, 1970

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Printed invitation with manuscript additions

Albany, March, [1929]

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 62

This invitation to dinner at the Executive Mansion in Albany is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.” Perkins was adamant about the use of her maiden name for her professional career, but allowed the use of her married name in private life.

Gift of Frances Perkins

Consumers’ League of new York

Luncheon…Hotel Commodore, March 1, 1929

Typescript with autograph notes of Frances Perkins on cover

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 121A

The close working relationship of Governor Roosevelt and Industrial Commissioner Perkins shines through in these remarks, here taken down in dictation, delivered to the Consumers’ League of New York. Note that this event took place in March of 1929. Her mention of the U.S. being in a period of “general prosperity” would be short-lived.

Gift of Susanna Perkins Coggeshall, 1970

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

[On the unemployment situation and appointment of a special committee to eliminate unemployment]

Albany, [Spring, 1930]

Typescript, carbon, with pencil corrections by Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 106C

Governor Roosevelt here appoints a special committee to address the issues of unemployment in New York State, with the Industrial Commissioner to serve as an ex-officio member, working toward industrial stabilization and the prevention of unemployment.

Gift of Susanna Perkins Coggeshall, 1970

Felix Frankfurter

[Statement on the unemployment situation under President Hoover]

Typescript with autograph corrections and additions

by Frances Perkins, [Cambridge, Mass.], before 22 April 1930


Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Typed note to Frances Perkins, with her pencil notes

Albany, 22 April 1930

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 61

Felix Frankfurter here sends Governor Roosevelt the draft of a challenge to President Hoover on the country’s unemployment situation, writing: “The latest official utterance on unemployment from the White House … follows out the prediction made two months earlier and assures the country that the crises is virtually passed. The President’s informants are ‘governors and mayors all over the country,’ who ‘with one exception,’ are agreed that the worst is over. That exception obviously is the State of New York.”

Gift of Frances Perkins

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Typed letter to Frances Perkins, signed by a secretary, with autograph note by Perkins

Albany, 12 September 1932

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 106C

Perkins threw her energy into Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign for the presidency. Here he sends his thanks, writing: “I need not tell you how happy it made me, and I am sure also, I need not add that you have been a great help to me. I have always been proud of my appointment of you.” Perkins wrote at the bottom: “Keep this in my personal ‘archives’ for the grand-children.” Today, her grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, has created the Frances Perkins Center at the Brick House, the family home in Newcastle, Maine.

Gift of Susanna Perkins Coggeshall, 1978

Frances Perkins

The Cost of a Five-Dollar Dress

New York: Survey Graphic, February 1933

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 46

As New York State Industrial Commissioner, Perkins published this expose of sweatshops of New York City. She would bring these same arguments for sweeping reform to President-elect Roosevelt on February 25, when he asked her to join his cabinet.

Gift of Frances Perkins


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