Marianne Moore: Poetry

March 6, 2010

Tricorne Hats

Frances Perkins, left, with Mary W. Dewson of the Social Security Administration, January, 1938.

“Fannie Coralie Perkins knew by the age of ten that she would never be a conventional beauty. . . . Her mother, Susan Bean Perkins, delivered the message when she took her daughter shopping for a hat. . . . [She] passed by the pretty hats and pointed instead to a simple three-cornered tricorn style, similar to the ones worn by Revolutionary War soldiers.

“There, my dear, that is your hat. . . .

“The hat would come to symbolize the plain, sturdy and dependable woman who became Francis Perkins,” Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt and the first female member of the Cabinet.

Perkins graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1902; this incident dates from about 1890.

from Kirstin Downey. The Woman behind the New Deal: The Life of Francis Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009, p. 5.

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