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Helen Valeska Bary

Helen Valeska Bary (1888 - June 22, 1973) was an American suffragist and helped establish the U.S. government social welfare administration. She campaigned for suffrage at the state and local level.[1] In 1914, she worked for the California Industrial Welfare Commission investigating the working conditions of women laundry workers,[2] which she wrote about in her report, "The Employment of Women and Minors in the Laundry Industry of California" in 1917.[3] Shortly after World War I, she worked in Porto Rico for the Federal Children's Bureau as a researcher and social reformer, reporting on the living conditions of indigent and homeless children on the island.[4] In her 1921 paper, "The Trend of Child Welfare Work", published in the North American Review, Bary wrote, "The greatest enemy of childhood has been the fatalistic complacency with which every phase of child life has been regarded".[5] Bary worked for the federal Social Security Board (SSB) since its inception in 1935 during the Great Depression. She worked there until 1948, representing the SSB in western states, helping them to develop social welfare reform plans in order to receive federal money.[6] Shortly before her death in 1973, Bary was one of twelve women interviewed by Jacqueline Parker for her work on the Suffragist Oral History Project for the UC Berkeley Oral History Center, "in order to document their activities in behalf of passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and their continuing careers as leaders of movements for welfare and labor reform, world peace, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment".[1]

Helen Valeska Bary
Photo of Helen Valeska Bary.jpg
Born1888 (1888)
DiedJune 22, 1973(1973-06-22) (aged 84–85)
OccupationSocial reformer
Known forSuffragist

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Parker, Jacqueline (1974). Helen Valeska Bary: Labor Administration and Social Security: A Woman's Life. Berkeley CA: University of California.
  2. ^ Wallis, Eileen V. (2010). Earning Power: Women and Work in Los Angeles, 1880-1930. University of Nevada Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780874178135. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  3. ^ Bary, Helen V. (1917). "The Employment of Women and Minors in the Laundry Industry of California". Second Biennial Report of the State of California, 1915-1916. Volume 2. California Industrial Welfare Commission. p. 170. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  4. ^ Santiago-Valles, Kelvin A. (1994). Subject People and Colonial Discourses: Economic Transformation and Social Disorder in Puerto Rico, 1898-1947. SUNY Press. p. 58, 161. ISBN 9781438418650. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  5. ^ Bary, Helen V. (April 1921). "The Trend of Child Welfare Work". The North American Review: 494-501.
  6. ^ Tani, Karen M. (2016). States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, 1935–1972. Cambridge University Press. pp. 309, 318. ISBN 9781107076846.