During the 1930s, Women made great gains in politics and government. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal represented a time of questioning and economic readjustment.
As New Deal Programs were implemented, women were appointed to high administrative positions. These women appointees worked on behalf of less fortunate women hurt by the Depression. Many positions were firsts for women: Cabinet member, Director of the Mint, Ambassador, and Judge to the Court of Appeals. These appointments reflected favorably on women active in public life.
Three women, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, and Molly Dewson, a politician and social reformer, were the main instigators of progress for women in politics during the era of the New Deal.
Molly Dewson was a well educated feminist politician who worked hard at social reform for women. Before coming to work for the New Deal, she promoted The Women’s Suffrage Movement, minimum wage reform and limited work hours. She was a confidant of Mrs. Roosevelt and an advisor to Frances Perkins and friend of both. She developed the Reporter Plan, an effort to involve women in understanding the New Deal.
Due to heart problems, she retired in 1936. She lived out her years until her death in 1962 on a dairy farm with her life partner, Mary G. Porter.
A novel, Beyond The Pale by Elana Dykewomon, set in the early 20th century is about the immigrant experience and the New York suffrage movement so dear to Molly Dewson. It is a story of the courage of two young women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who end up working in the New York garment factories. It is a story of love and devotion. I recommend it not only as a powerful story, but also an education on the issues faced by women that moved the politically-minded women of the 1930s to work hard for social change. It’s available on Amazon.