Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal

President Roosevelt > Life In Washington

Photograph of the Cabinet Wives, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 150A

Ahead of her time in regard to Washington protocol, Frances Perkins chose to be placed with the wives of Cabinet officials at social events. Moreover, Cabinet protocol called for the Cabinet to be lined up in the order of when their positions were created. As the Secretary of Labor job was the most recent post, the other “wives” outranked her. Here she attends a White House luncheon, of, as described on the back, the “Cabinet ladies,” photographed in the Blue Room.

Gift of Susan Perkins Coggeshall, 1973

Photograph of Miss Jay, Frances Jurkowitz

Washington?, 1934?

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 150A

When Perkins was appointed Secretary of Labor, she asked her loyal secretary, Frances Jurkowitz, known as Miss Jay, to come to Washington with her. A dedicated and very hard worker, Jay was sometimes over-protective of Perkins, resulting in feelings of resentment against her boss.

Gift of Susan Perkins Coggeshall, 1973

Photograph of Mary Harriman Rumsey

Washington?, 1932?

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 150A

Mary Harriman Rumsey was one of the founders of the Junior League in 1901, and served as its chair until 1905, the year she graduated from Barnard College. In 1928 Rumsey and her brother, Averell, abandoned their family's ties to the Republican Party to support Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith. They also supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt's candidacy in 1932. After Roosevelt's election, he appointed Rumsey Chair of the Consumers' Advisory Board of the NRA. She and Frances Perkins shared a house in Washington, the site of many a glittering dinner with Washington's elite, until her sudden death in 1934 after a fall from her horse during a hunting party.

Gift of Susan Perkins Coggeshall, 1973

Photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivering State of the Union

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 150A

Frances Perkins can be seen here attending Roosevelt’s State of the Union address in 1943.

Gift of Susan Perkins Coggeshall, 1973

International News Photos

His Master’s Voice

Los Angeles, 21 July 1944

Frances Perkins Papers, Box 61

In this photograph of Fala, kept by Perkins, President Roosevelt’s Scotty “bends an attentive ear to a portable radio on a railroad station platform at a Pacific Coast naval base as he listens to his master accepting a fourth term nomination.”

Gift of Frances Perkins


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