Press Release

Capitol Hill Event Launches Historic Campaign to Preserve the Legacy of Frances Perkins
$5.5 million campaign will honor the work and career of New Deal architect, Frances Perkins, expand educational programs and historic preservation

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Chaney, Executive Director, Frances Perkins Center; mchaney@francesperkinscenter.org; 207-563-3374

Washington, DC – October 24, 2017 – The Frances Perkins Center announced the launch of the Frances Perkins Homestead Campaign today at an event on Capitol Hill, hosted by US Congressman Richard Neal. The Frances Perkins Homestead Campaign: Seeking the Public Good is a five-year endeavor to raise $5.5 million to expand educational programs and historic preservation honoring the exemplary work and career of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet as Secretary of Labor under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and credited as one of the principal architects of the New Deal.

The campaign, co-chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell and Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, seeks to purchase and renovate the Perkins family homestead in Newcastle, Maine, establishing the Frances Perkins Center as a national educational center and historic site.

The Frances Perkins Center was incorporated in 2009 to educate the American people about the life and work of Frances Perkins, and inspire them to address current economic and social problems through education, outreach, and advocacy. Perkins is widely recognized as a principal architect of the New Deal, President Roosevelt’s social compact that included Social Security, the forty-hour workweek, overtime pay, unemployment insurance, a ban on child labor, and workplace safety standards. She is credited with effectively addressing the extreme poverty and unemployment that afflicted tens of millions of Americans during the Great Depression. Her ability to effectively shape bipartisan legislation and her inspired dedication to improving conditions for all Americans led to advances in social justice and to the establishment of ground-breaking programs to help care for the aged, children, families, workers, and people with disabilities.

“I got to go to college because of Frances Perkins and her contributions. My parents died at a young age and my immigrant aunts and my grandmother, they took us in. We lived as a family. My grandmother was one of 14 and she had seven. She’d done her part for humanity. Frances Perkins looms large in my life. And if I walk or drive past the Department of Labor and I see that name, boldly printed outside that building, Frances Perkins Labor Department, I’m reminded of the great sense of gratitude that I feel for her work of genius.”  —  Congressman Richard Neal

Throughout her lifetime, Frances Perkins often lived at and found respite at her family’s saltwater farm in Newcastle, Maine, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2014. In Phase One of the campaign, the Frances Perkins Center is seeking $3.5 million to purchase and renovate the homestead to serve as an important regional and national resource with classrooms, meeting spaces, a library, facilities for archival work, exhibition spaces, and outdoor self-guided tours of the homestead’s grounds. The new facilities will be used for lectures, workshops, courses, history tours, regional school programs, internships for undergraduates, and graduate study opportunities.

“Harvard historian Jill Lepore reminds us that ‘however singular a person’s life may be, the value of examining it lies not in its uniqueness, but in its exemplariness, in how that individual’s life serves as an allegory for broader issues affecting the culture as a whole.’ Frances Perkins’ life and work is a paradigm of this notion of exemplariness. Her commitment to social justice, economic security, and gender equality have transformed the lives of generations of Americans, and we are thrilled to celebrate her legacy, grounded in the homestead that shaped her leadership.”  —  Lynn Pasquerella

Phase Two of the campaign will seek $2 million to establish an endowment fund to maintain the property and advance Perkins’ work toward social justice, fair labor practices, and equity.

A principal purpose of the campaign is to ensure that the generations of young people—who are the beneficiaries of the innovations Perkins pioneered—will be able to discover and learn about her lifetime of achievement through the Center’s educational, advocacy, and scholarship programs.

For more information about the Frances Perkins Center and the Frances Perkins Homestead Campaign, please visit francesperkinscenter.org.

About the Frances Perkins Center

Incorporated in 2009, The Frances Perkins Center honors the exemplary work and career of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet, a key advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and a lifelong advocate for social justice and economic security. The Center aims to inspire people to address current economic and social problems through work in the areas of education, outreach, and advocacy. The Frances Perkins Center seeks to acquire and preserve the Perkins family homestead on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle, which was designated as the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark in 2014.

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