Virtual Tour Study Guide

Frances_Perkins at Consumer's League c.1911Welcome to our virtual tour of the Frances Perkins Center.

Listed below are some reading materials and websites for more information about Frances Perkins and the Frances Perkins Center.  They were selected especially for use by teachers and students — probably best for ages 10 and up.  Some of these publications are available for sale at our administrative offices 170A Main Street, Damariscotta, Maine where you will also find an exhibit about the life of Frances Perkins, secretary of labor from 1933-45 in the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first woman cabinet member in U.S. history, principal architect of Social Security and other landmark achievements of the New Deal.  And don’t forget to check our website at for upcoming news and events, as well as for links to other organizations and libraries with related information.

Please note that the Perkins homestead — The Brick House — is still a private residence and currently open to the public only for occasional special events or by appointment.  For questions, contact us at: or call (207) 563-3374. Our mailing address is:  Frances Perkins Center, PO Box 281, Newcastle, ME 04553.

Books By Or About Frances Perkins
Breiseth, Christopher and Kirstin Downey, editors.  A Promise to all Generations:  Stories & Essays about Social Security & Frances Perkins. Newcastle, Maine: Frances Perkins Center, 2011.

Colman, Penny.  A Woman Unafraid:  The Achievements of Frances Perkins.  New York: Athenaeum, 1993.

Downey, Kirstin.  The Woman Behind the New Deal:  The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience.  New York: Random House, 2009.

Martin, George. Madam Secretary: Frances Perkins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.

Pasachoff, Naomi. Frances Perkins:  Champion of the New Deal. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Perkins, Frances. The Roosevelt I Knew. New York: Penguin Books, 2011. A reprint in paperback of the 1946 edition with a new forward by Adam Cohen.

Perkins, Frances. People at Work. New York: John Day Co., 1934.

Severn, Bill. Frances Perkins: A Member of the Cabinet. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1976.

Books About the New Deal Era
Cohen, Adam.  Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America.  New York: Penguin Books, 2009.

Flynn, Kathryn A.  The New Deal:  A 75th Anniversary Celebration.  Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2008.

Galbraith, John Kenneth.  The Great Crash 1929.  New York: Mariner, 2009.

Kennedy, David M.  Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945New York, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 1997.

Schlenker, Jon A.  In the Public Interest:  The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine, A Pictorial History.  Augusta: University of Maine at Augusta Press, 1988.

There are many websites with general information about Frances Perkins that can be found easily through web searches.  The sites listed here were chosen specifically for teachers and students who wish to gain a deeper understanding of Frances Perkins and the New Deal era.

Kirsten’s Reader Guide
This reader’s guide to Downey’s 2009 biography of Frances Perkins has fifteen thoughtful discussion questions suitable for readers of all ages. The site’s introduction states:  “Frances Perkins is no longer a household name, yet she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. As the first female cabinet secretary, she spearheaded the fight to improve the lives of America’s working people while juggling her own complex family responsibilities. Perkins’s ideas became the cornerstones of the most important social welfare and legislation in the nation’s history, including unemployment compensation, child labor laws, and the forty-hour work week.”

Social Security Administration’s Frances Perkins page
This website of the Social Security Administration has a biographical statement about Frances Perkins and audio clips and transcripts of some of her speeches.

National Park Service information on the Civilian Conservation Corps.
This interactive curriculum teaches the fundamentals of social and political history through the events of the Great Depression using the stories of real people, real experiences, and real places of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  It is geared to younger students.

The FDR Presidential Library and Museum website
This website was developed by educators at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York.  It has curriculum guides and information about teacher workshops and onsite school programs.  See especially the curriculum guide titled “Our Plain Duty:  FDR and America’s Social Security.”

Columbia University Libraries online exhibit
This online exhibit titled “Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal” features correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drafts of speeches, photographs, and memorabilia from Columbia University’s extensive collection of Frances Perkins’ papers housed at the Rare Books and Manuscript Library.

Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office website for Frances Perkins
This site contains an extensive oral history of Frances Perkins recorded from 1951-55 by Dean Albertson of Columbia University.  It includes full transcripts of the interviews as well as audio clips of selected segments.

Shining a light on Frances Perkins' legacyFinally getting her due