Anderson, Mary

Anderson, Mary
   Swedish-born Mary Anderson moved to the United States in 1889. After working in a boardinghouse, she moved to West Pullman, Illinois, and found work in the garment industry and then in a shoe factory. Anderson became an active trade unionist and was the only woman to sit on the executive board of the International Boot and Shoe Workers’ Union. She joined the Women’s Trade Union League in 1905 and became a full-time organizer with the league in 1911. In 1918, she became assistant director of the government’s newly created Women in Industry Service (WIS), and in 1919 she became director. The following year the WIS became the Women’s Bureau within the Department of Labor. In 1933, Anderson was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to head the U.S. delegation to the International Labour Organization and as an adviser to the U.S. delegate at an international conference on the textile industry. During World War II, the Women’s Bureau was active in aiding the employment of women in war industries and campaigning for equal pay for equal work. The bureau issued several reports on women’s working conditions during the war. Anderson retired in 1944 but continued to campaign for equal pay for women into the 1950s.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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