Wednesday’s Woman! By Laura Baxter, Executive Director
The spirit of Wednesday’s Woman is what drives the women’s movement, ending gender-based violence, and ensuring that we continue forward!
Rosie the Riveter captured the spirit of the 1940s and specifically the World War II era new-found status of women as patriots and expanding into the workforce! Have you ever wondered who Rosie was? Here are a few clues!
In 1943 the Westinghouse Electric Corporation displayed a photograph 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!” The federal government utilized the image of “Rosie the Riveter” throughout World War II to encourage women to seek factory positions. Women clearly responded, with approximately one-half of all adult American women in war positions by 1944.
Norman Rockwell published a painting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943, depicting a woman in a blue work jumpsuit with a rivet gun in her lap, a sandwich in her hand and a copy of “Mein Kampf” under her foot.
The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in 1942 in a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song was recorded by numerous artists, including the popular big band leader Kay Kyser, and it became a national hit. The song portrays “Rosie” as a tireless assembly line worker, who earned a “Production E” doing her part to help the American war effort.
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.
On January 20, 2018, less than two years after getting recognition as the woman most likely to be the woman who was the inspiration for the World War II poster girl “Rosie the Riveter”—Naomi Parker Fraley died at the age of 96.
There are others who have been credited or have been thought to be the inspiration for Rosie including Rosie Will Monroe, an assembly line worker at the Ford Motor Company plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Monroe helped build B-29 and B-24 airplanes for the war effort. Hollywood producers selected Monroe to act in a movie encouraging women to seek employment in wartime industries. Women who worked in such positions all became known as “Rosie the Riveters.”
Rosie, we thank you for your inspiration and your willingness to step in and do what was necessary and to move women’s rights forward! You continue to be an inspiration today as a Wednesday’s Woman!
Have a Wonderful and Inspired Wednesday everyone!