Maurine Mulliner

Maurine Mulliner

Maurine Mulliner, 1937. Photo courtesy of Maurine Mulliner.

Maurine Mulliner was the first Executive Secretary to the Social Security Board, starting in that job in February 1936. This was a key role in the early organization because Maurine was instrumental in setting up the procedures and functional arrangements for the Board's operations. She was a trusted confidant of the early executives, serving as a "gate-keeper" controlling access to the Board and reviewing materials submitted for the Board's consideration, returning for additional work those she judged sub-par.

For historians, Maurine's contributions to SSA are especially important. She established all the early forms of documentation of the Board's actions and kept detailed Minutes, Decisions, and even a verbatim "Running Record" of early Board discussions. In a compliment to her objectivity and professionalism, Board member Arthur Altmeyer once remarked that he was never quite sure what the Board had decided until he had a chance to read it in Maurine's notes!

Maurine began her federal career in 1932 working in the Depression-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation. By 1933, she was an aide to U.S. Senator Robert Wagner (D-NY) whom she would describe as "the man who started it all" because he introduced the Social Security bill in the Senate in 1935. In February 1936 she started her storied career with the Social Security Board. She made many significant contributions to our nation, not just in Social Security, but in many other areas as well.

Maurine Mulliner's oral histories of the period are among the most prized in our collection since she is a marvelous story-teller who knew most of the key players and witnessed many of the important events in Social Security's early history. In November 1999 we had the privilege of meeting Maurine for the first time when she generously donated several photographs from her personal collection to the SSA History Archives. We found her to be just as charming and gracious at age 94 as others said of her when as a young woman of 31 she began her career with Social Security.

Note for the record: Maurine Mulliner died on February 24, 2002 at the Mariner Health at Circle Manor in Washington, D.C. The obituary that appeared in the Washington Post on Friday, March 1, 2002 incorrectly identified Miss Mulliner as having served as Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in the 1940s. Miss Mulliner never served in such a post.

Photo Gallery

Maurine Mulliner with Frank Bane (1936 & 1973)

Career Highlights

1928-1931Executive Secretary-- Child Research Center, Washington, D.C.
1931-1932Research Assistant to Prof. Mandel Sherman -- University of Chicago
1932-1933Personnel Assistant and Secretary -- U.S. Reconstruction Finance Corp.
1933-1936Personal Secretary to U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner
1936-1940Technical Adviser to Social Security Board
1940-1941Recording Secretary to the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense
1941Technical Adviser to Social Security Board
1941-1944Assistant Director of the Bureau of Employment Security, Social Security Board
1944-1945Chief Documents Officer/Assistant to Deputy Director General of UNRRA
1945-1946Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britian
1946-1947Special Assistant to U.S. Rep. on UN Economic and Social Council
1947-1951Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Social Security
1952-1962Staff Adviser to the Commissioner of Social Security

Oral History Interviews

In 1965, Maurine Mulliner provided an oral history interview to SSA Historian Abe Bortz. In 1968, Maurine did another oral history interview as part of project commissioned by SSa through the Columbia University Oral History Center. Those interviews are now available here for the first time.

1965 SSA Oral History Interview

1968 Columbia University Oral History Interview