Episode 219: Frances Perkins, Part One

Posted 16 December 2022 by

Frances Perkins led a very long, very active, and very productive life as a social worker and workers’ rights advocate, and as the first woman ever appointed to a United States Federal Cabinet position. One episode just won’t cover it all, and, trust us, you need to hear it all!

Fannie Coralie Perkins was born on April, 10, 1880 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the oldest of two daughters of Frederick and Susan Perkins. In this episode we’ll take you first through her early life, mostly based in Worcester (it’s pronounce “wus-ter,” trust us) Massachusetts and at the Perkins family homestead in Newcastle, Maine, where her very wise and influential Grandma Cynthia lived.

Next we talk about her college years at Mount Holyoke College where she really had the ultimate college experience. Educated, driven, and brave, she went forth to a life as a social worker…only to be turned away. She wasn’t done learning yet!

We’ll take you through her teaching days in Chicago where her mind was blown by all the amazing work done at Chicago Commons and Hull House, two settlement houses, where she volunteered her time and cut her social working teeth. We’ll follow her to her first paid social work gigs in Philidelphia and New York City, her post-graduate education, her first experience in worker’s rights advocacy and up to the tragedy that not only changed her life, but laser focused her work.

We leave you as she has built her experience to know what she doesn’t know, know how to learn what she doesn’t know, and who to work with to turn her ideas for social change into law. She’s fueled and empowered to go ahead and build her vision of a better country, enacting reforms that affect each of us, even today.

Time Travel With The History Chicks

We referenced several former podcast subjects during this, but the two episodes that we would like to point you to right now are our coverage of Jane Addams, and The Bowery Boys episode and article about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

The rest of the links and media recommendations with be on the shownotes for Part Two of Frances’ story! JK, look for them in the shownotes for Part Three!