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Legacy Home > Directors > Biographies

W.A. Rooksberry

W.A. Rooksberry was Arkansas' first Employment Security Division administrator, serving a short term, from March 1937 until October 1938. He was appointed by Governor Carl Bailey. Rooksberry also had the distinction of having served as Director of the Arkansas Department of Labor, from 1927-1933.

Former Director Rooksberry served as ESD Administrator during the Roosevelt Administration, and under the tenure of the Department of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first female cabinet head in history. W.J. McCain was Arkansas' director of the Department of Labor during Rooksberry's tenure.

In 1933, four years before the Employment Security Division was established, President Roosevelt had pushed for and won the passage of the "New Deal" in Congress.

The actual law was called the Wagner-Peyser Act, and Arkansas adopted the law as Act 173 of 1935. The Wagner-Peyser Act revitalized the existing U.S. Employment Services (USES), the forerunner of the state Employment Security Division. The nation-wide system of employment offices established under USES would eventually be tasked with providing placement and recruitment for the unemployed, and later, administration of unemployment insurance (UI) under the Social Security Act.

Governor Carl Edward Bailey first gained notoriety when he successfully prosecuted Arkansas' largest banker. He later made history when he took the infamous crime figure, "Lucky" Luciano, into state custody. It was on the wave of this notoriety that Bailey ran for and won the 1936 gubernatorial race.