Biography of Florence Kelley

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One of the most effective reform techniques is to “investigate, educate, legislate, enforce” (Fee/Brown, 2). This straightforward manner of rectification was summarized and utilized by Florence Kelley during the Progressive Era in the United States. During a period where women lacked suffrage, and most didn’t have steady jobs, Kelley was the head of the National Consumer’s League and had a resume that boasted affiliation with various other esteemed organizations (Verba, 1). She epitomized independence and confidence through both her civil activism and in her personal life. Florence Kelley’s resolve, willpower, and determination set a precedent that is still followed today- nearly 90 years after her death. She was truly a trailblazer of the first generation of modern women.
Born into a fiercely political family, Florence’s life was influenced by her near-constant coquetry with abolition and other various civil rights efforts. Her father, William “Pig Iron” Kelley, was an ardent proponent of women’s rights, and was also known as the protector of Pennsylvania’s iron and steel industries, earning him his moniker. Kelley was educated at home for much of her childhood, as she was often ill, and her family’s home was rather isolated from nearby Philadelphia (Bienen, 1-“William”). Nonetheless, her education was satisfactory, and primarily influenced by her father. Through her atypical form of education, Kelley was allowed to develop an opinion on diverse topics that most children her age were oblivious to. Kelley traveled across the country with her father, exploring steel and iron manufacturing sites, prefacing her future career path. In addition to vocational learning, Florence Kelley absorbed knowledge through the massive library at h...

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...ugh her work in college, at Hull House, or with the NCL, Florence Kelley’s impact was truly remarkable. She never criticized any potential cause that she encountered, and she helped most everyone that needed it. The proof is in her career. She not only helped start the NCL, a general workers’ league, but also the NAACP, one of the first organizations founded solely to help alleviate the lives of colored people. She made massive contributions to the US Children’s Bureau, and inspired countless people from all walks of life. One of which was Kelley’s on protégé, Frances Perkins, who would later go on to become the Secretary of Labor, the first female cabinet member, under President Teddy Roosevelt. Wherever you look, Kelley’s impact is there. She affected every type of person, and toiled for social justice for all; regardless of race, gender, or age.
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