Rosie the Riveter at AirVenture with Feith and Goglia
Two famous Rosie Paintings– Rockwell and Miller
Song and film
Messrs. Feith and Goglia, while at the EAA AirVenture, were recently photographed with “Rosie the Riveter”. That siting with an iconic figure of aviation and a symbol of feminism was a catalyst to learn more about Ms. Riveter. Here are some interesting facts:
- Rosie is actually figuratively a symbol for all of the American women who contributed to World War II.
- On a literal level, her name was FIRST the title of a popular song debuted called “Rosie the Riveter,” written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and sung by the Four Vagabonds
- the RTR name was the subject of a Norman Rockwell illustration for a Saturday Evening Post cover entitled Rosie the Riveter
- Also her name has been ascribed to a poster painted by J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse Electric as an inspirational image to boost female worker morale entitled “We can Do It”
- Multiple women who say that they were models for Rockwell and Miller—so many that a researcher (see below) studied the records to ascertain who was/were the real RTT
- A series of posters and films promoting women contributions to the war
“..one scholar, James J. Kimble, to explore the history behind this American and feminist icon and to untangle the legends surrounding the famous poster. “There are so many incredible myths about it, very few of them based even remotely in fact,” Kimble says.
In 1942, 20-year-old Naomi Parker was working in a machine shop at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, when a photographer snapped a shot of her on the job. In the photo, released through the Acme photo agency, she’s bent over an industrial machine, wearing a jumpsuit and sensible heels, with her hair tied back in a polka-dot bandana for safety
1942 photograph of Naomi Parker
Naomi Fern Parker was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, as the third of eight children to Joseph Parker and Esther Leis. Her father was a mining engineer while her mother was a homemaker. The family moved across the country from New York to California, living in Alameda at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She and her younger sister Ada went to work at the Naval Air station, where they were assigned to the machine shop for aircraft assembling duties.
The poster in question was originally produced in 1943 by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and displayed in its factories to encourage more women to join the wartime labor force. Created by the artist J. Howard Miller, it featured a woman in a red-and-white polka-dot headscarf and blue shirt, flexing her bicep beneath the phrase “We Can Do It!”
Although it’s ubiquitous now, the poster was only displayed by Westinghouse for a period of two weeks in February 1943, and then replaced by another one in a series of at least 40 other promotional images, few of which included women. “The idea that we have now that she was famous and everywhere during the war—not even close to true,” says Kimble.
But in the 1980s, Miller’s “We Can Do It!” poster resurfaced with a bang, and was widely reprinted on T-shirts, mugs, pins and many other products. Kimble believes this resurgence was due to a combination of factors, including Reagan-era budget cuts, which led the National Archives to license the image to sell souvenirs and raise money; the 40th anniversary of World War II; and the continuing push for women’s rights. Adopted as a feminist symbol of strength and an icon of American wartime resilience, the woman in the poster was retroactively identified as Rosie the Riveter, too, and quickly became the most widely recognizable ‘Rosie.’”
There are others who believe that they flexed their bicep for Miller:
Saturday Evening Post cover May 29, 1943.
The U.S. government, with the help of advertising agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, mounted extensive campaigns to encourage women to join the work force. Magazines and posters played a key role in the effort to recruit women for the wartime workforce.
Saturday Evening Post cover artist, Norman Rockwell, is generally credited with creating one of the popular “Rosie the Riveter” images used to encourage women to become wartime workers. The Post was then one of the nation’s most popular magazines, with a circulation of about 3 million copies each week.
Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter received mass distribution on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on Memorial Day, May 29, 1943. Rockwell’s illustration features a brawny woman taking her lunch break with a rivet gun on her lap, beneath her a copy of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf and a lunch pail labeled “Rosie”. Rockwell based the pose to match Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting of the prophet Isaiah.
Rockwell’s model was a Vermont resident, then 19-year-old Mary Doyle Keefe who was a telephone operator near where Rockwell lived, not a riveter. Rockwell painted his “Rosie” as a larger woman than his model, and he later phoned to apologize. The Post’s cover image proved hugely popular, and the magazine loaned it to the U.S. Treasury Department for the duration of the war, for use in war bond drives.
Rosie the Riveter on film
Heard on All Things Considered
Rose Will Monroe, who became the famous “Rosie the Riveter” during WWII, died on Saturday in Clarksville, Indiana, at the age of 77. Linda speaks with Monroe’s daughter, Vicki Jarvis, about the chance meeting with actor Walter Pidgeon that turned Monroe into the star of promotional films for war bonds. Monroe was working as a riveter in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and fit the profile of the hit song “Rosie the Riveter” by Kay Kyser.
Rosie was but a symbol of so many women who were critical to the Allies success!!!
Which Rosie do you think is standing next to Greg and John?
 More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just 1 percent in the pre-war years). The munitions industry also heavily recruited women workers, as illustrated by the U.S. government’s Rosie the Riveter propaganda campaign.
Share this article: