“Rosie the Riveter” died on Sunday.
Well, technically it was not “Rosie”. It was the Michigan woman, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who some claimed was the inspiration for the “We Can Do It!” poster:
In 1941, a United Press International photographer snapped a photo that would help inspire the nation. As the Lansing State Journal writes, it captured a 17-year-old bandana-clad girl who was working at a metal-pressing plant near Ann Arbor.
That image heavily influenced a poster that “evoked female power and independence under the slogan ‘We Can Do It!,’ ” The Washington Post writes. It became one of the most-famous “Rosie the Riveter” illustrations of the war.
In case you forgot, it is this poster:
I would say that it did indeed evoke “female power and independence”. It was a great illustration and a strong message.
The poster, by the way, was not of Rosie the Riveter. It was created for the war industry to recruit women to work in the factories. The name “Rosie” was attached to a war industry worker by Norman Rockwell in his Saturday Evening Post illustration and the name came from a song by the Four Vagabounds. (Note to everyone: Never assume you know a story until you research it).
Rosie the Riveter will never die because the iconic woman who could do anything is now us. While we are not done with all the fights, we will never go back to our pre-World War II roles. In fact, the number of women working outside the home never again fell below pre-war levels.
Please take the time to steep yourself in a little history from the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Women wearing pants (for the first time), women wearing work shoes (for the first time), strong women or as the narrator says: “women who were powerful, competent, womanly”.
(The Library of Congress is gathering interviews with women who worked in the war industry under their Veterans History Project. If you know someone whose story you can share, go to their web site and add their voice.)
Thank you, “Rosie”, and thank you to all of the women who made it possible for us to not only say “We Can Do It!” but “We are doing it and doing it quite well, thank you”.