Beatrice McConnell, 91, a retired deputy director of the Women's Bureau of the Labor Department who also had been assistant director of the Bureau of Labor Standards and head of the industrial division of the Children's Bureau, died of congestive heart failure Aug. 28 at the Washington House retirement home in Alexandria.
Miss McConnell began her federal career in 1935 when she came to Washington as an official of the Labor Department. As director of the industrial division of the Children's Bureau, she was responsible for enforcing the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In an interview with The Washington Post at that time she said one of the most difficult problems in child employment was the practice of some manufacturers, particularly in the textile industry, of distributing piecework to low-income families to be done at home. Much of this was passed on to children, she said, and it was extremely difficult to control their working conditions.
She also noted that the passage of the National Recovery Act, which made it illegal for children under 16 to be employed in factories, was a milestone in improving the lot of children. She said that the number of youngsters working in industry was dropping even while industrial production was increasing.
Miss McConnell stayed in the Children's Bureau until 1947, when she became assistant director of the Bureau of Labor Standards. In 1962, she was named deputy director of the Women's Bureau. She retired from that post in 1965 and then spent several years as a consultant on migratory workers to the Office of Economic Opportunity.
Over the years Miss McConnell drafted a number of statements on national labor standards. She was a U.S. delegate to five conferences of the International Labor Organization and a member of planning committees for the White House conferences on children and youth in 1950 and 1960.
In 1958, she received the Labor Department's Distinguished Service Award. In 1964, she was honored with a Citation for Notable Career Service from then-Secretary of Labor Willard W. Wirtz. He said the guidelines she helped develop during World War II and the Korean War "were extremely effective in maintaining employe morale, improving production and preventing a breakdown in standards . . . . Your leadership has translated compassion and concern for people into meaningful action for their benefit."
Miss McConnell was born in Sherrard, W.Va. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and earned a master's degree in labor economics and social research at Simmons College. She worked on programs for women and children for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry before moving here to join the federal government.
She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters and the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington. She also was active in the Wesley Theological Seminary Guild.
Miss McConnell leaves no immediate survivors.