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1959 Horatio Alger Award Winner

James P. Mitchell*

United States Secretary of Labor

"The opportunity to serve my country was my highest honor."

James Mitchell was born in 1900 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He earned $2 a week delivering groceries while attending parochial school. He used the money he earned to purchase books. After graduation, he went to work full time at a store for a monthly salary of $60. Within a year, he was named store manager and used his savings to open his own stores in Elizabeth and Rahway, New Jersey. Both stores failed during the Depression so he began working at a lumber yard and as an expediter for Western Electric Co. In time, he was transferred to Western Electric's personnel department, where he became interested in labor relations. In 1931, the company loaned Mitchell to the New Jersey Relief Administration. Five years later, he left Western Electric to take charge of labor relations for the Works Progress Administration in New York. During World War II, he served in various manpower posts in Washington. After the war, he returned to private industry. In 1953, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Army and in less than a year, President Eisenhower appointed him U. S. Secretary of Labor.

* Deceased