American women were double outsiders in interwar international politics, as Americans (outside of the League of Nations), and as women. Nevertheless, in at least one case, they made a significant contribution. This article traces the crucial role played by three American women in securing U.S. accession to the International Labour Organisation, part of the League, in 1934. Alice Cheyney, an employee of the ILO Washington Office; Mary Anderson, chief of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau; and Frances Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – all acted at varying levels of power. However, without their concerted, enduring contributions, it is unlikely that the United States would have joined the ILO as early as 1934. This work makes twin contributions to international history and gender history by putting women’s contributions to securing U.S. accession to the ILO at the forefront of a narrative which has heretofore largely neglected them.
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