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'Summoned: Frances Perkins and the General Welfare
(DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Featuring interviews with David Brooks, Nancy Pelosi, Amy Klobuchar, Lawrence O'Donnell and others, this film explores the history of women in politics, Social Security, and attitudes toward immigration, poverty, Socialism, and the role of government.

This heroic story enriches and informs our current debate, as Americans continue to live and work under the enduring legacy of Frances Perkins.

DVD Verdict: The first woman appointed to a U.S. Presidential cabinet, Frances Perkins created the social safety net that continues to shape the lives of Americans today.

In her 12 years as Labor Secretary under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Perkins created the Social Security program, a federal minimum wage, the 40-hour work week and unemployment compensation, and ended the legal use of child labor.

'Summoned: Frances Perkins and the General Welfare' tells the story of Perkins' life through rare archival recordings of her voice, and interviews with Nancy Pelosi, George Mitchell, David Brooks, Lawrence O'Donnell and Amy Klobuchar.

Here we delve deeper into her term as Secretary of Labor, where Perkins executed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act.

With the Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans.

She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard forty-hour work week.

She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service.

Perkins also dealt with many labor questions during World War II, when skilled labor was vital and women were moving into formerly male jobs.

Early on we learn that Fannie Coralie Perkins was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Susan Bean Perkins (4 September 1849 1927) and Frederick W. Perkins (24 August 1844 1916), the owner of a stationer's business (both of her parents originally were from Maine).

Fannie Perkins had one sister, Ethel Perkins Harrington (18841965) and her family could trace their roots to colonial America, and the women had a tradition of work in education.

There is just much to enrich your knowledge of history here watching this quite fascinating program on one of the renowned women to have ever graced this planet.

FYI: In the 1987 American movie 'Dirty Dancing,' the lead character Frances "Baby" Houseman reveals that she was named after Perkins! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.