Additional papers of Frieda S. Miller, 1948-1963
Addenda to the papers of Frieda Segelke Miller (A-37), labor administrator and official.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Frieda S. Miller is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent.21 linear feet (1/2 file box)
Collection contains correspondence, primarily from Pauline Newman; clippings; and a report.
Frieda Segelke Miller, labor administrator and official, was born at La Crosse, Wisconsin, on April 16, 1889. Her parents, James Gordon, a lawyer, and Erna Segelke, died when Miller was small, leaving Frieda and her younger sister Elsie to be reared by their grandmother, Augusta (Mrs. Charles) Segelke of La Crosse. Miller received her BA from Milwaukee-Downer College (later Lawrence University), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1911; she then spent four years doing graduate work in economics, sociology, political science, and law at the University of Chicago, but did not complete a degree.
Miller spent the next several years at a variety of jobs, including secretary to the Philadelphia branch of the Women's Trade Union League (1918-1923) where she met her lifelong friend Pauline Newman. In 1920 Miller began a relationship with fellow labor activist Charles Kutz. She became pregnant in 1923, and as Kutz was married with several children and his wife was unlikely to give him a divorce, Miller did not inform him of her pregnancy. She ended their relationship and went on an extended trip to Europe with Newman, ostensibly to attend the International Congress of Working Women in Vienna, Austria. She gave birth to her daughter Elisabeth in Naples, Italy, and legally adopted her after returning to the United States, where she told acquaintances she had adopted the baby in Europe. Miller never married and raised Elisabeth with Newman.
In 1929 Frances Perkins appointed Miller director of the Division of Women in Industry and Minimum Wage at the New York State Department of Labor; she was instrumental in the passage of New York's Minimum Wage Law for Women and Minors in 1933. In 1938 Governor Herbert Lehman appointed Miller Industrial Commissioner of New York, a post she held until 1943 when she left to become special assistant for labor to John C. Winant, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Late in 1944 Miller became director of the Women's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor. Her major responsibility was the reintegration of women into the economy after their displacement by veterans returning to their pre-war jobs. She conducted studies to examine labor laws and vocational improvements in the conditions of women in the labor force. A Roosevelt appointee, Miller left the Women's Bureau in 1953 at the request of President Eisenhower.
During the 1950s and 1960s Miller focused on international labor issues. As early as 1936 she had begun representing the United States at International Labor Organization conferences; after leaving the Women's Bureau she went to work full-time for the ILO and conducted several major surveys in Asia and the Middle East of working conditions and opportunities for women and children. For a short period (1957-1958) she also represented the International Alliance of Women at the United Nations.
In the early 1960s Miller became United Nations representative for the European organization the International Union for Child welfare, conducting an International Child Welfare Survey (#227) and participating in various UNICEF projects. She left the United Nations in 1967 at the age of 78.
During her long professional life Miller was affiliated with a number of other organizations concerned with women's role in the economy, including the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the International Council of Women, the Women's Trade Union League, and the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union. She was much in demand both as a speaker and a writer and maintained an international reputation in her field. Her contributions to women and labor were recognized in 1940 when she was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Russell Sage College. For most of her life she lived in New York, maintaining a summer home in Connecticut and later one in Pennsylvania; she spent the last four years of her life in a New York City nursing home where she died on July 21, 1973.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 83-M191, 83-M198
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Elisabeth Burger in September 1983.
Processed: November 1983
By: Christine C. Marshall
This collection was formerly cataloged as 83-M191--83-M198.
- Miller, Frieda S. Additional papers of Frieda S. Miller, 1948-1963: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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