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A-37

Miller, Frieda S. Papers, 1909-1973 (inclusive), 1929-1967 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

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Radcliffe College
August 1979

© 1979 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: A-37
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: FRIEDA SEGELKE MILLER, 1889-1973
Title: Papers, 1909-1973 (invlusive), 1929-1967 (bulk)
Quantity: 6.26 linear ft. (15 file boxes, 13 folders of photographs, 1 folio+ folder)
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, photographs, etc., of Frieda Segelke Miller, labor administrator and official.

Processing Information:

Processed: August 1979
By: Donna E. Webber

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 55-60, 57-116, 58-72, 917, 1200, 1638, 69-3, 70-19, 70-69, 70-90, 71-5, 71-36, 71-84, 71-98, 72-61, 73-68, 74-179, 75-86, 75-285, 76-293, 77-M170, 78-M35, 78-M109, 78-M214
The papers of Frieda Segelke Miller were given to the Schlesinger Library by FSM and Pauline Newman between 1955 and 1978. They were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-24669-76-987).

BIOGRAPHY

FSM, labor administrator and official, was born at La Crosse, Wisconsin, on April 16, 1889. Her parents, James Gordon, a lawyer, and Erna Segelke, died when FSM was small, leaving Frieda and her younger sister Elsie to be reared by their grandmother, Augusta (Mrs. Charles) Segelke of La Crosse. FSM received her BA from Milwaukee-Downer College (later Lawrence University), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1911; she then spent four years doing graduate work in economics, sociology, political science, and law at the University of Chicago, but did not complete a degree.
FSM spent the next several years at a variety of jobs, including secretary to the Philadelphia branch of the Women's Trade Union League (1918-1923) where she met her lifelong friend Pauline Newman. In 1929 Frances Perkins appointed FSM director of the Division of Women in Industry and Minimum Wage at the New York State Department of Labor; she was instrumental in the passage of New York's Minimum Wage Law for Women and Minors in 1933. In 1938 Governor Herbert Lehman appointed FSM Industrial Commissioner of New York, a post she held until 1943 when she left to become special assistant for labor to John C. Winant, U. S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Late in 1944 FSM became director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. Her major responsibility was the reintegration of women into the economy after their displacement by veterans returning to their pre-war jobs. She conducted studies to examine labor laws and vocational improvements in the conditions of women in the labor force. A Roosevelt appointee, FSM left the Women's Bureau in 1953 at the request of President Eisenhower.
During the 1950s and 1960s FSM focused on international labor issues. As early as 1936 she had begun representing the U.S. at International Labor Organization conferences; after leaving the Women's Bureau she went to work full-time for the ILO and conducted several major surveys in Asia and the Middle East of working conditions and opportunities for women and children. For a short period (1957-1958) she also represented the International Alliance of Women at the United Nations.
In the early 1960s FSM became UN representative for the European organization the International Union for Child welfare, conducting an International Child Welfare Survey (#227) and participating in various UNICEF projects. She left the UN in 1967 at the age of 78.
During her long professional life FSM was affiliated with a number of other organizations concerned with women's role in the economy, including the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the International Council of Women, the Women's Trade Union League, and the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union. She was much in demand both as a speaker and a writer and maintained an international reputation in her field. Her contributions to women and labor were recognized in 1940 when she was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Russell Sage College.
FSM never married, but in 1923 while in Germany she adopted a daughter, Elisabeth. For most of her life she lived in New York, maintaining a summer home in Connecticut and later one in Pennsylvania; she spent the last four years of her life in a New York City nursing home where she died on July 21, 1973.

SUMMARY OF INVENTORY

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The FSM collection consists of eight series, each chronologically arranged except where noted. There are some papers from FSM's early life, but most of the collection covers the period 1929-1967.
Series I, Personal, contains biographical information, school notes, and correspondence with family and friends. This material provides only a sketchy source of information about FSM's personal life.
Series II, New York State Department of Labor: A. Director, Division of Women in Industry and Minimum Wage, is a short subseries containing reports and correspondence collected during FSM's first job at the New York State Department of Labor. The material provides some insight into FSM's activities but in general lacks substantive information about her nine years in this position. B. Industrial Commissioner, is an extensive collection of reports, committee papers, and correspondence. Letters and petitions written in support of FSM's nomination to the position suggest her appointment may have been controversial.
Series III, Assistant to U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, record FSM's eighteen months as special assistant for labor during World War II. It is the largest series of the collection and contains a complete file of reports, with a card file index, and a lengthy correspondence file. Series IV, Women's Bureau, documents FSM's nine years as director and contains an extensive correspondence file, numerous reports, conference and committee records, and official statements to Congress.
Series V, International Labor Organization, is a fairly complete record of FSM's long involvement with the ILO. Committee papers describe FSM's role as a U.S. government-appointed delegate during the 1930's and 1940's. There are preliminary notes and final reports for later Asian and Middle Eastern labor surveys for the ILO, and a brief correspondence file.
Series VI, International Union of Child Welfare representative to the United Nations, is especially notable for the extensive correspondence between FSM and officials at the IUCW. There is some information on IUCW and UNICEF meetings, but this does not seem to be complete. A short subject file provides some indication of FSM's activities at the UN.
Series VII, Professional, describes FSM's diverse activities and affiliations with various organizations, including her longtime participation with the International Alliance of Women. The correspondence file sheds further light on her many interests and professional contacts, and the large collection of speeches, radio speeches, and articles by FSM is especially valuable. The clippings document her contributions to women and labor and suggest the extensive coverage her many endeavors received.
Series VIII, Photographs, includes portraits of FSM, pictures taken at work or on trips, and several unidentified photos. Few of the pictures are captioned or described.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see 83-M191--83-M198.

ADDITIONAL CATALOG ENTRIES

A card for each of the following appears in the card catalogue:
Abbott, Grace, 1878-1939
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
American Association of University Women
Beyer, Clara, 1892-
Bondfield, Margaret G.
Brandeis, Louis, 1856-1941
Bunche, Ralph, 1904-1971
Burlingham, Charles C., 1858-1959
Byrnes, James F., 1906-1972
Carrie Chapman Catt Memorial Fund
Christman, Elisabeth, ?-1975
Cohn, Fannia, 1888-1962
Cripps, Isobel
Dingman, Mary A., 1875-1961
Dodd, Alvin E.
Douglas, William O., 1898-
Dreier, Mary Elisabeth, 1875-1963
Dubinsky, David, 1892-
Edwards, India
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 1890-1972
Electrical Association for Women
Elliot, Katherine, 1905-
Frank, Walter, 1882-1969
Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965
Goldmark, Josephine, 1877-1950
Goodrich, Carter, 1897-
Haslett, Caroline
Herrick, Elinore M., 1895-1964
Hillman, Sidney, 1887-1946
Hoffman, Anna M Rosenberg, 1902-1983
International Alliance of Women
International Confederation of Trade Unions
International Council of Women
International Labor Organization
International Ladies Garment Workers' Union
International Union of Child Welfare
Jeffrey, Mildred, 1911-
Johnson, Ethel M., 18??-
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968
Kenyon, Dorothy, 1888-1972
Keyserling, Mary Dublin, 1910-
La Guardia, Fiorello H., 1882-1947
Lehman, Herbert H., 1878-1963
Lenroot, Katherine F., 1891-
Mayo, Leonard W., 1899-
National Association of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
National Committee on Household Employment
National Institute of Houseworkers Ltd.
National Women's Trade Union League of America
New York Department of Labor
New York Women's Trade Union League
Newman, Pauline, ca. 1895-
Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965
Peterson, Esther, 1906-
Pickett, Clarence E., 1884-1965
Poletti, Charles, 1903-
Polier, Justine, 1903-
Reuther, Walter, 1907-1970
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano jr., 1914-
Schneiderman, Rose
Sichrova, Elizabeth
Stewart, Maxwell, 1900-
Strauss, Anna Lord, 1899-
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1973
United States. Department of Labor. Women's Bureau
Wagner, Robert F., 1910-
Winant, John C., 1899-1947
Wood, Ethel Mary
Young Women's Christian Association
Children--Employment--Near and Middle East
International agencies
Labor and laboring classes
Labor and laboring classes--Great Britain
Labor laws and legislation
Labor laws and legislation--Addresses, essays, lectures
Speeches, addresses, etc.
Underdeveloped areas--Women's employment
Women in public service
Women in the civil service

CONTAINER LIST

INVENTORY

INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS


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