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AFL-CIO - Women

For Every Woman Who Wants to Make Changes on the Job.

Go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau

A Look Back... continued

Caroline Gleason
(Sister Miriam Theresa)

In 1912 Gleason began a sociological survey that would eventually affect every laborer in the country. As part of a study for the Oregon Consumers' League, Gleason interviewed thousands who worked in abominable conditions to earn a mere $8.25 for a 54-hour week. Although she was considered an "outrageous socialist" by employers, Gleason had the satisfaction of seeing her data prompt passage of the country's first enforceable wage-hour law, which became the model for the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In 1916, she found another way to promote social justice--she became a teaching nun. As Sister Miriam Theresa, she supervised the social sciences department at Oregon's Marylhurst College for thirty years, urging students to work for society's good through the Peace Corps, Volunteers In Service To America, and in schools and prisons. Upon her death, she was eulogized before Congress.

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