March is Women’s History Month: Rosie the Riveter

U.S. National Archives image via flickr

Rosie the Riveter was both an icon of World War II and the American Home Front, and a product of propaganda during the war. J. Howard Miller created Rosie for a series of posters for the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Co-ordinating Committee with the image eventually becoming part of the “We Can Do It” print shown here. Rosie represented American Patriotism as many women responded to the call for war workers due to their sense of duty. She represented business because she was a symbol for production. And Rosie symbolized a skilled job, which was the means of attaining a better standard of living in America for many women and their families during the war.

For a short period of time, war jobs offered women the opportunity of improving their lives materially and building their self esteem through participation in nontraditional female jobs that contributed to the war effort. When the war ended, propaganda came into play again as business and government conspired to force women from the workforce as their jobs were given to returning soldiers.

 My grandmother, aunts and mother worked war jobs in shipyards in Stockton, California. My relatives’ work experiences mirrored those in the film:

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter [videorecording]
Curriculum Resource Ctr -- 2nd Floor Ask for it at the CRC Desk.

Their experiences also influenced Chapter 4 on Rosie the Riveter in my thesis: Influences of the Myths of the American West on Business Culture in the United States : An Interdisciplinary Exploration http://boisestate.worldcat.org/oclc/42064361

And some day I would like to visit the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park in California http://www.nps.gov/rori/index.htm

Additional resources on the topic:

Rosie the Riveter : Women working on the home front in World War II (has some nice photographs) http://boisestate.worldcat.org/oclc/30894677

Rosie the Riveter revisited : Women, the war, and social change http://boisestate.worldcat.org/oclc/14967521

Creating Rosie the Riveter : Class, gender, and propaganda during World War II

Audrey Williams,
Access Services

No comments: