Florence Kelley, Secretary, National Consumers' League


Florence Kelley, Secretary, National Consumers' League


To live means to buy, to buy means to have power, to have power means to have responsibility.
Florence Kelley, National Consumers League website
Portrait of Florence Kelley, the founder of first general secretary of the National Consumers' League. This photograph is part of the Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbook collection. These scrapbooks were compiled between 1897 and 1911 by Anne and her mother Elizabeth. They were created to commemorate the business of the Geneva Political Equality Club (which the two founded in 1897), but they also recorded information relating to women's suffrage.

The National Consumers League, the oldest consumer organization in the United States, was founded in 1899 by social reformers Jane Addams and Josephine Lowell. It was created during the Progressive Era and works "to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad."

Florence Kelley was the League's first general secretary, and she began by exposing child labor and other poor working conditions. She was very active throughout the early 1900s, working to protect workers from exploitation, creating federal child labor restrictions, and writing state minimum wage laws for women. Kelley continued to lead for 33 years.

Later, Eleanor Roosevelt would serve as vice president. During this time, the League began to focus on the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, a piece of legislation that addressed everything from industrial homework to minimum wage. The League continued to advocate for issues such as national health insurance and social security legislation. From 1943-1958, new emphasis was placed on issues such as equal pay for women and disability coverage, and the priorities continued to expand through the following decades, covering topics like worker and food safety, health assistance, and consumer education.

Today, the Consumers League works to protect consumers and workers, bringing issues to the attention of Congress and the President and uniting consumer and labor groups. They promote medication safety, work closely with government agencies (e.g., the Department of Labor and the Food and Drug Administration), improve working conditions for migrant workers, and fight for product safety.


Part of the Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbooks







For Further Exploration Please Visit http://www.nclnet.org


Library of Congress


Library of Congress


Medium: Photomechanical Print.






Child Labor, Fair Labor Standards Act, Florence Kelley, National Consumers' League, Safety, Workers






Part of the Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbooks, Florence Kelley, Secretary, National Consumers' League, Library of Congress, Undated

Cite As

Part of the Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbooks, “Florence Kelley, Secretary, National Consumers' League,” Virtual Museum of Public Service, accessed August 20, 2022, https://vmps.omeka.net/items/show/171.