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Frances PerkinsFrances Perkins
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But so far as I personally was concerned, woman's rights and woman's suffrage even were not matters of primary importance. I was much more deeply touched by the problems of poverty, the sorrows of the world, the neglected individuals, the neglected groups and the people who didn't get on well in this great and good civilization. I think I've said - I've written it certainly - that it's true that as far as I'm concerned when I read How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis it was like a new world to me. I followed that with many, many other things so that I got a literary acquaintance with poverty.

I think it's certainly true that when a book makes such an impression on someone as Riis' made on me, there is something in the person's own background that precedes the understanding of that book. I don't know what was in my background that led me to that. From a child on I was always very sensitive to sufferings of people from poverty. There was a family connected with our church whom my father always befriended and helped who were very poor. To this day I don't know why they were poor. It was a sizable family. Whether the father didn't work, or whether the father was sick, I don't know. I remember that family. I even remember the names of some of the children in the family. My mother was always hustling around to get something for them, either clothing or a barrel of flour or the rent or a job or something.

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