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The Responses of Roosevelt to the Great Depression

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Roosevelt. At the top level of government, a more significant female presence existed than in all previous administrations. With ties to the Progressive era reform, these women clustered around Eleanor Roosevelt and Frances Perkins, who, as Secretary of Labor became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a cabinet-level appointment. Compassionate and responsive, Eleanor Roosevelt personified the administration's concern for the victims of economic disaster. Active in the promotion of racial justice, she supported the anti-lynching effort of the NAACP. Eleanor Roosevelt also secured an administrative appointment for noted African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who helped widen employment opportunities for minority youth. The commitment of New Deal women to ameliorate suffering resulted in the Social Security Act's provision for aid to dependent women and their children. Democratic party activist and reformer Molly Dewson became the first woman to serve on the Social Security Board. The government's commitment to welfare created new opportunities for women in the field of social work. In line with the earlier tradition of women's voluntary settlement house work, the female-designated area of social work widened employment opportunities without challenging a traditional male occupation. As in other women's fields, gender bias kept the status and pay scale in social work low.(document A)

The National Relations Act outlawed company unions and other unfair labor practices to ensure collective bargaining for unions. It created a national relations board to preside over labor management. The Wagner Act was the most far reaching of all New Deal measures, which led to the revitalization of the American labor movement.

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