Author Kirstin Downey to Speak at Opening of Exhibit on Frances Perkins


NEW YORK, October 21, 2009 -- The Friends of the Columbia Libraries will sponsor a talk by award-winning journalist and author Kirstin Downey, who will discuss her new book, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). The event will take place on Thursday, November 5, at 6:00 p.m. in Butler Library, Room 523 and is free and open to the public.

Frances Perkins and Franklin D. Roosevelt

Frances Perkins (1880-1965) is no longer a household name, yet she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. Government official for New York State and the federal government, including Industrial Commissioner of the State of New York from 1929-1932, Perkins was named Secretary of Labor by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. As FDR’s friend and ally, Perkins would help the president fight the economic ravages caused by the Great Depression and make great strides toward improving workplace conditions.

A reception and viewing of the exhibition, “Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal” will follow in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML). The exhibition will feature correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drafts of speeches, photographs, and memorabilia from RBML’s extensive collection of Frances Perkins’ papers. It will run through February 26, 2010.

Kirstin Downey is a journalist and author who was a business writer at the Washington Post from 1988 to 2008. Downey's work has focused on illuminating the human implications of important financial trends, particularly boom and bust cycles in the modern economy. Copies of The Woman Behind the New Deal, which draws extensively on the Perkins papers in RBML, will be available for sale at the reception.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

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