West Tisbury library screens ‘You May Call Her Madam Secretary’

Frances Perkins, pictured here with FDR, was secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945. —Courtesy West Tisbury library

Local film producer Marjory Potts will present a screening of her documentary,” You May Call Her Madam Secretary” about Frances Perkins, who was secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945. This one-hour film, a story of conscience and politics, is about the first woman to hold high public office in the U.S. and is shown to celebrate Women’s History Month, according to a press release.

Portions of the film were shot over one week at the old Lambert’s Cove Inn, in the public sitting room which evoked the apartments Perkins lived in in New York and Washington. A number of Islanders participated in the documentary and original music was composed by Jeff Bryant and Peter Huntington.

The film traces the rise of social conscience in this country from the outrage that followed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, still the worst industrial fire in U.S. history, to the revolutionary legislation of the New Deal, Social Security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage and maximum hours of work, and the end to most child labor. Perkins was part of all of these milestone events and laws, and is considered the prime mover to get FDR, with whom she had a very close relationship, behind the Social Security Act.

Perkins was a superb and witty storyteller with a remarkable memory. Actress Frances Sternhagen presents Perkins’ character, based on words from her oral history and other writings. It also features the co-producer, Robert Potts, who portrays FDR, Al Smith, Tammany Hall bosses and politicians, in the tones and accents of their time.

For more information call the library at 508-693-3366 or email ogately@clamsnet.org.This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments served.

The film will be shown at the West Tisbury library on Sunday, March 15, at 2 pm.