While browsing the files of the first Federal Reserve Governor, Charles Hamlin, (recently digitized for FRASER at the Library of Congress), your eye might catch the word “Joy”—not a typical topic for Federal Reserve documents. Aryness Joy was on the routing lists or the author of many of the documents in the collection. Since there were few women associated with the Federal Reserve Board in the 1920s and 1930s, Miss Joy’s presence in these records is notable.

Aryness Joy (later Mrs. Wickens) was hired as a research assistant by the Federal Reserve Board in 1928 and had a 42-year career in various federal agencies, including the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), where she played a role in creating the cost-of-living index.[1] Elected to Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Washington and with a master’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago, she was identified in a 1954 article in the Prescott Evening Courier as “the highest paid career service woman in the United States government” (at $13,500 a year) as well as a “working mother.”[2]

 

staffpicks_amemofrommissjoy_1

From Charles S. Hamlin Papers, 205.001 – Hamlin Charles S. Scrap Book – Volume 239, Box 367, Folder 5, p. 80.

In her 1933 memo to Mr. Goldenweiser (who passed it along to Mr. Hamlin) with the subject “Decline in the Cost of Living,” Joy took issue with the “antiquated” nature of the data then available (a complaint that perhaps led to her work at the BLS): “[W]hen cost of living indexes become the legal standard for wage fixing, it cannot be too strongly urged that the Government make a modern inquiry into the cost of living and construct an index based upon the buying habits of 1933, rather than of 1918.” (Scrap Book – Volume 239, Box 367, Folder 5, p. 81)

For more of her thoughts on the cost of living index, see her 1944 article in the Journal of Business of the University of Chicago.[3]

 

[1] Glenn Fowler, “Aryness Wickens, 90, Economist Who Developed Major Cost Index.” New York Times, February 8, 1991; http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/08/obituaries/aryness-wickens-90-economist-who-developed-major-cost-index.html.

[2] “Highest Paid Career Woman at $13,000 Resides on Farm.” Prescott Evening Courier, November 22, 1954, 6; https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2ucKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CVADAAAAIBAJ&pg=4610%2C129980.

[3] Wickens, Aryness Joy. “What the Cost-of-Living Index Is.” Journal of Business of the University of Chicago, vol. 17 no. 3 (Jul., 1944), 146-161. Accessed September 22, 2015; http://www.jstor.org/stable/2349845.

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