From a recent article by Lenora Cole Alexander, director of the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau, on the bureau's 65th anniversary:
"No woman on earth is worth more than $2,000 a year."
With that ringing dictum on the floor of the U.S. Senate 65 years ago, Congress created the Women's Bureau "to promote the welfare of wage- earning women. . . ."
The occasion had provided the opportunity for some, like Congressman Blanton of Texas, to strike at the 7- year-old Labor Department (wherein the new bureau would operate) with the charge that the department "is turning loose dangerous anarchists faster than the Department of Justice can apprehend them."
And Congressman Merritt of Connecticut, who feared that another bureau would "only confuse the operation of the government . . . and not help women."
Or Congressman MacCrate of New York, who warned that "Men may long for the days when the spinning wheel helped to make the family income meet the family need."
. . . The work of the bureau was an uphill struggle in those early years under its first director, Mary Anderson, a Swedish immigrant who had worked for $1.50 a week as a domestic. She and the bureau were attacked from every side on all of its endeavors.
A persistent charge was un-Americanism for "trying to further Soviet and Bolshevik programs in the United States, especially by (the bureau's) endeavors to get federal legislation for assistance to mother and children."
. . . The bureau opened its doors as the only agency in the federal government with a congressional mandate to promote the welfare of working women. Today it is still the only federal agency with that exclusive mandate. . . .