Featured Records

Frances Perkins: Champion of Workers’ Rights

Thursday, February 29, 2024 – Monday, April 15, 2024
East Rotunda Gallery

“I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten plain common workingmen.” —Frances Perkins

Chances are you benefit from the legacy of Frances Perkins, one of U.S. history’s most consequential figures. As Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, she was the main architect of the New Deal, securing retirement, disability, and unemployment benefits still in effect today. Her life’s mission, however, was set decades before. “The New Deal began on March 25th, 1911,” Perkins said. “The day that the Triangle factory burned.” Living in New York City at the time, Perkins watched in horror as garment workers jumped to their deaths. The doors of the crowded factory had been locked to prevent workers from taking breaks. In all, 146 people died in the calamity.

Nomination of Frances Perkins as Secretary of Labor, March 4, 1933
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Senate

An Ambitious To-Do List

According to the Frances Perkins Center, she made it clear to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that she would only accept his appointment if he supported her goals: “a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, abolish child labor, direct federal aid to the states for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized federal employment service, and universal health insurance.” When she finished her term, she had checked all but health insurance off her list.

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Past Featured Records
  • 70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

    Thursday, February 1, 2024 – Wednesday, February 28, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Equity in Education: 70 Years Later

    On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional in... Read more

  • 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
    250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
    Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Wednesday, January 31, 2024
    East Rotunda Gallery

    The Destruction of the Tea

    It wouldn’t be known as the “Boston Tea Party” for another 50 years, but the destruction... Read more

  • Diseños: An Impact of Mexican Cession
    Diseños: An Impact of Mexican Cession
    Tuesday, June 20, 2023 – Wednesday, October 18, 2023
    East Rotunda Gallery

     

    At the end of the Mexican-American War, the United States annexed more than half of Mexico’s territory under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Under its terms, the U.S. promised to... Read more

  • Celebrating Anna May Wong
    Celebrating Anna May Wong

    Anna May Wong
    National Archives, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service

    “I want to be an actress, not a freak.”

    Film legend Anna May Wong’s talent could not be contained by the racist casting of early Hollywood movies. Born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles in 1905,... Read more

  • The Maker of Pilots: Willa B. Brown
    The Maker of Pilots: Willa B. Brown

    Willa B. Brown, February 13, 1943
    National Archives, Records of the Office of War Information

    Aviator Willa Beatrice Brown (1906–92) achieved numerous “firsts” in her lifetime, many of them earned through her tireless advocacy to integrate aviation programs. Brown began taking flying lessons in 1934,... Read more

  • Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Thursday, November 3, 2022 – Thursday, January 12, 2023
    East Rotunda Gallery

    On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women attempted to vote in Rochester, New York, challenging section... Read more

  • Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.
    Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.

    Thursday, September 8, 2022 – Wednesday, November 2, 2022
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Early in the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated allegations of Communist activity in the film industry. The committee’s mandate was... Read more

  • Black Wall Street: 100 Years Since the Tulsa Race Massacre
    Black Wall Street: 100 Years Since the Tulsa Race Massacre

    Thursday, April 1, 2021 – Thursday, June 17, 2021
    Online

    “— were dead. Figures are omitted [because] NO ONE KNOWS.” —Red Cross Report


    On Memorial Day 1921, a Black shoe shiner named Dick Rowland rode in an elevator with white operator Sarah Page. The next day,... Read more

  • Victory in Japan: 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII
    Victory in Japan: 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII

    Japan Surrenders

    World War II, the bloodiest conflict in history, came to an end in a 27-minute ceremony on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, six years and one day after the war erupted in Europe. On that September morning in 1945, Japanese officials signed a... Read more

  • National Inventors’ Day
    National Inventors’ Day

    To celebrate National Inventors’ Day, learn about Marjorie S. Joyner and her groundbreaking permanent wave machine, an innovation that revolutionized the time-intensive task of curling or straightening women’s hair. Over her 50-year career, Joyner trained thousands of students and helped write the first cosmetology laws in... Read more