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Francis Perkins Labor Movement Documentary

You May Call Her Madam Secretary, A US History Documentation on Frances Perkins

Recommended for:  American History/Civilization -- Labor History/Education -- Women's Studies -- Women's History Month -- Social Work History -- Public Library/ Community/Group Conference Programming 

"I had to do something about unnecessary hazards to life, unnecessary poverty. It was sort of up to me. this feeling...sprang out of a period of great confusion which overtakes all young people. One thing was perfectly clear...the circumstances of the life of the people of my generation was my business, and I ought to do something about it." -Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, 1933-1945 from her Oral History

This film is about conscience and politics. If history teaches values, then in Frances Perkins' life, we learn of a time when, as she said, "People cared to change the way things were."

This is the story of a woman whose anguish over the misery of workers in the emerging industrial world of her youth, led her to give up the comforts of home and family, turn from teaching to settlement house work, ultimately becoming one of the outstanding social reformers in the twentieth century. It is a film not only about an individual but about her contemporaries, about how the movement for social justice took hold of and fired the imagination of Frances Perkins and the men and women around her. It is about a woman who denied she had any ambition, yet was torn between her obligations to husband and child and her devotion to public service.

Frances Perkins was a superb storyteller with a remarkable memory.In You May Call Her Madam Secretary, Broadway and film actress Frances Sternhagen presents Perkins' character on camera using the words from her Oral History, on record at Columbia University, and from lectures, letters and writings. Whole conversations with FDR, Al Smith and others of her era are retold here as she remembered them. "Women have got the vote, I think they ought to be in government, I think you should be in government." - Governor Al Smith, 1919, naming Frances Perkins to the New York State Industrial Board.

You May Call Her Madam Secretary traces the rise of social conscience in this country: from the outrage that followed the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911, still the worst industrial fire in U.S. history, to the revolutionary legislation of the New Deal: Social Security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage and maximum hours of work, the end to child labor. This is a film about the complex Frances Perkins, a New Deal "radical," a believer in state's rights, a driving force behind those reforms which shapes our society.

You May Call Her Madam Secretary 58 minutes (may be shown in two half-hour sessions) $69.95 (To purchase this DVD please go to our Order Form)

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