“Rosie the Riveter” Jennifer Koontz HIST 377
ROSIE 2 “Rosie the Riveter” During World War II women were pivotal to the war effort and fulfilling the vacant spots once filled by men in factories, businesses, assembly lines and so on. Powerful images came about during this time showing women that they were needed and that they could fill the place of a man and do anything. “Rosie the Riveter”, is one of those powerful images used to recruit women into the workforce. The historical significance of “Rosie the Riveter,” is that tough women were a part of the workforce during WWII and it was critical that they help on the home front while the men were away fighting. The women who were the real “Rosie the Riveters” gave shape to the iconic image still used today and what is the history behind the images. Also, does the image still hold the same meaning today or something completely different. Pondering the image that was used for government campaigns to recruit female workers in the munitions industry is just a glimpse into the lives of these women. The Real Rosie’s The image was not of just one person, but a collection of women even though the iconic image was based off the inspiration of one women with her red and white polka-dot bandana. A woman by the name Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a 17-year-old metal-stamp presser who left her position after only two weeks of work believed that she was the inspiration for the image. She went four decades not knowing that she could be the posters model, and the image was only on display for two weeks in 1942 with the name “Rosie” being a mystery of how it came to be. In 1944, the next person that helped push the image was Rose Will Monroe, who was a riveter along with Rose Bonavita a riveter at General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division who set a record of 3345 rivets driven in a single overnight shift. The other Rosie was discovered in 1943 and painted by Norman Rockwell featuring Rosie as a musclebound woman holding a rivet gun on
ROSIE 3 her lap, with a lunch pail embossed with the name “Rosie,” giving the character a name (Schneider, 2015). The original image that is the most famous of today was created by J. Howard Miller, a Pittsburgh artist that was given the job to create a series of upbeat posters from Westinghouse War Production Coordinating Committee in 1942 (Schneider, 2015). The image that J. Howard Miller used was not of Doyle that was a mistake for many of years, but it was of Naomi Parker-Fraley, who first saw the image she thought it was her, but wasn’t sure. She was one of more than over 6 million women who entered the workforce during World War II, each of which saw a piece of themselves in the iconic image that is used as a symbol of modern day feminism (Dunlap, 2016). During a reunion of the “Rosie the Riveter’s”, World War II Home Front National Historical Park, Parker-Fraley noticed a picture of herself displayed as the inspiration behind the poster, but the caption below was of Doyle’s name.
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