The Woman Behind the New Deal

Decent Essays

The first half of Kirstin Downey's book, The Woman Behind the New Deal chronologically explores the Frances Perkins life up until her early years as the Secretary of Labor under President Roosevelt. She was not only a vital labor advocate but a woman's suffrage leader. Her up-bringing, education, influences, alliances, work history, and the changing world around her shaped her into an extraordinary person. She is an outstanding example of the “New Women” in the progressive era. She lived her life like a calculated chess player; practically every step that she took whether it be personal, professional, or in public appeared to be tactical. First, in her private life she demonstrated her capacity to be unconventional. She was brave not afraid to take a position that was not popular with the people around her. For example, in her youth she told adults in her conservative Republican community that she was a Democrat to get a reaction out of them (). Her interactions with her traditional mother, an avid church goer certainly shaped Frances Perkins' perceptions of the poor and motivated her to help them. Her mother encouraged her to do works of charity and get to know the poor. After graduating college, she became more non-traditional moving to the city to teach and to then she pursued social work, which was highly unusual for a woman her time. Even her marriage to her husband Paul was unorthodox, they had a simple ceremony without inviting her family or friends. Plus, she

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