What Is the History of Rosie the Riveter?


Quick Answer

Rosie the Riveter was the patriotic image used by the government to convince women to join the workforce during World War II. The first appearance of Rosie the Riveter appeared on May 29, 1943, in the Saturday Evening Post, and it was illustrated by Norman Rockwell.

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Full Answer

Due to large enlistment levels of men in the military, the industrial work force needed women to make up the difference. Before the war, only 27 percent of women worked; however, during the war, the figure rose to 37 percent. The government needed a propaganda figure to aid industry in the recruit of female workers.

An early version of Rosie the Riveter appeared in an advertisement for Westinghouse power company with the headline reading "We Can Do It!" Then in 1943, a song titled "Rosie the Riveter" written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb debuted. Rockwell's image showed Rosie stepping on a copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and featured an American flag in the background.

The real life inspiration for the image was a woman named Geraldine Doyle, who worked at a metal pressing factory outside Detroit. A photographer for the United Press International took her photograph while she was working, and J. Howard Miller, a graphic designer, like the image enough that he used her in his Westinghouse image campaign.

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