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Esther Eggertsen Peterson (December 9, 1906December 20, 1997) was a lifelong consumer and women's advocate.


The daughter of Danish immigrants, Esther Eggertsen grew up in a Mormon family in Provo, Utahmarker. She graduated from Brigham Young Universitymarker in 1927 with a degree in physical education. She moved to New York Citymarker where she married Oliver Peterson. In 1932, the two moved to Bostonmarker, where she taught at a prep school and volunteered at the YWCA.


In 1938, Peterson became a paid organizer for the American Federation of Teachers and traveled around New England. In 1944, Peterson became the first lobbyist for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C.marker In 1948, the State Department offered Peterson’s husband a position as a diplomat in Swedenmarker. The family returned to Washington D.C., in 1957 and Peterson joined the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO, becoming its first woman lobbyist.

She was Assistant Secretary of Labormarker and Director of the United States Women's Bureau for President John F. Kennedy, Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, Vice President for Consumer Affairs at Giant Food Corporation, and president of the National Consumers League.

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and was named a delegate the UN as a UNESCOmarker representative in 1993.

Selected Works

  • Restless: The Memoirs of Labor and Consumer Activist Esther Peterson (Caring Publishing, 1997)

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