Social Security Pioneers

Albert Henry Aronson

Henry Aronson

Albert H. Aronson, known as Henry to his family and friends, was born on March 31, 1904 in New York, NY. He graduated from the City College of New York, and earned a law degree from New York University. Mr. Aronson entered federal service in 1930 as a Field Examiner with the Civil Service Commission. From 1933 to 1935 he was Assistant Director of Personnel with the Farm Credit Administration, one of the New Deal agencies set up by President Roosevelt. In 1936 he was appointed the Social Security Board's first Personnel Director. His integrity and devotion to public service made him the ideal person to maintain the high standards set by the Board to hire only the most qualified individuals through merit appointments. Unfortunately, Mr. Aronson's sense of duty caused him to become a target of the Congressional House Ways and Means Committee when he refused to accept their advice on a number of key appointments. As a result, a campaign was started to remove him as personnel director.

Although it was widely accepted that Mr. Aronson was performing the job the Board expected of him, it was decided, after much consideration, to move him to a less controversial position. Accordingly, he was transferred to head the new State Merit System program, which was responsible for bringing state hiring practices in line with federal personnel standards based on ability rather than political favoritism. Mr. Aronson held this position until his retirement in 1971. At the time of his death in 1973, Arthur Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare had these words to say about Henry Aronson:

"The career services in both the federal government and state governments will always be indebted to him for his courageous insistence on adherence to high standards in the administration of the civil service system."