Thursday, July 22, 2010

Francis Perkins and Social Security

The Francis Perkins Center launched a website, Social Security Stories, about the origins and legacy of the Social Security Act of 1935. It provided benefits to retirees, the disabled and the unemployed. She accomplished a lasting legacy in the history of social welfare.

Francis Perkins was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. She completed her undergraduate work at Mount Holyoke College and graduate work (economics and sociology) at Columbia University. In her work experiences, she visited settlement houses and engaged in progressive causes. She advocated vigorously for better labor conditions In the U.S. Cabinet, she played a key role in drafting landmark New Deal legislation, such as social security, child labor regulation, minimum wage laws, and unemployment insurance. In 1980, the Francis Perkins Building (Department of Labor headquarters) was commemorated in her honor.

Since the 1930s, Social Security has gradually moved toward universal coverage. Changes in Social Security have reflected a balance between promoting equality and efforts to provide adequate protection. This includes underserved populations, such as the disabled and minority groups.

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