Katherine P. Ellickson; Labor Economist, Activist


Katherine P. Ellickson, a labor economist and union and women’s activist who served as executive director of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, has died in La Jolla. She was 91.

The family said she died Dec. 28 at the White Sands retirement home in La Jolla.

After studying economics at Vassar College and Columbia University, she became involved in workers education issues, including fieldwork in Southern textile mills and coal camps in West Virginia. She tutored under the auspices of the Women’s Trade Union League in 1926-27 and taught at the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in 1927-29.


She served as chief assistant to the first director of organization for the fledging Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935.

After the CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor, she served as assistant director of the labor group’s Social Security department. During an era when few women were included in union’s highest councils, Ellickson was organized labor’s leading voice on a wide range of social welfare issues.

After serving on the women’s commission, she worked for the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity in the Labor Department.

She is survived by a daughter, Margaret Senturia, of Brookline, Mass.; a son, Robert Ellickson, of Woodbridge, Conn., and three grandchildren.