Humanities › History & Culture Frances Perkins and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Labor Reform as a Career Share Flipboard Email Print Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library History & Culture Women's History Key Events History Of Feminism Important Figures Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated February 11, 2018 A wealthy Bostonian who had come to New York for a Columbia University graduate degree, Frances Perkins (April 10, 1882 - May 14, 1965) was having tea nearby on March 25 when she heard the fire engines. She arrived at the scene of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in time to see workers jumping from the windows above. Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire This scene motivated Perkins to work for reform in working conditions, especially for women and children. She served on the Committee on Safety of the City of New York as executive secretary, working to improve factory conditions. Frances Perkins met Franklin D. Roosevelt in this capacity, while he was New York governor, and in 1932, he appointed her as Secretary of Labor, the first woman to be appointed to a cabinet position. Frances Perkins called the day of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire "the day the New Deal began."