In the time of World War II, millions of people from both the Allied, and Axis sides died, during one of the largest wars in history from September 1939, to September in 1945.
During this war approximately 400,000 U.S. women served with Armed Forces, and more than 500 lost their lives as a result. On the Homefront the 'total war' recruited not only women to fight for their country on the battlefield, but also in factories to replace the shortage of men in order to make munitions, and other war supplies.
Nearly 19 million women held jobs during wartime since it was a 'total wartime', meaning everyone had to be enlisted for the war effort. Women had to take over the factory jobs in order to keep the economy moving, and the factories working. They recruited women from their homes with the pitch, 'if you can operate an electric mixer, you can operate a drill'. But by 1944 when the U.S. seemed to be sure to win the war, women were told to go back to their domestic duties. Some still continued to work, but by 1947 the percentage went from 36% to 28%.
Rosie The Riveter was implemented as a motivational, and cultural icon during the war. She was first used in 1942 as a song of the same name written by Redd Evans, and Jacob Leob. The title for the song was originally a nick-name for Rosie Bonavita, who worked for Convair in San Diego, California. The idea for Rosie's resemblance came from Veronica Foster, a girl who in 1941 was Canada's poster girl for the war effort.
The individual who inspired the song was Rosalind P. Walter, who worked the night-shift, building the F4U Corsair fighter. But Rosie The Riveter became more closely associated with Rose Will Monroe, from Pulaski, Kentucky. She moved to Michigan and became a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft factory. She built B-24 bombers for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Later Rose was asked to star in the promotional film about the war effort, because she best fit the description of 'Rosie' from the song. She continued to appear in several films, and posters used to encourage women to go to work in support of the war effort. 'Rosie The Riveter' went onto become the most widely recognized icon of that time.
Women were quick to respond to Rosie, and were convinced it was their patriotic duty to enter the workforce. Other iconic 'Rosies' came onto the scene such as, Wendy The Welder, and Josephine The Plumber.
For the first time working women dominated the workforce, and dominated the public image. Women were finally in a more respectful role of the community, and not just revered as only housewives, or mothers of domestic being. Although after the war when women had to give up their jobs to return home, they didn't reenter the job market until the 1970's when the factory employment had declined all over the country.
Decades later Rosie The Riveter is still seen in paintings, and in newspapers today. The most popular depictions of her yet were by one of J.Howard Mullins, who's "We Can Do It" image of Rosie was popularized during the war effort in 1943, but it wasn't until the 1980's when it was used as a source of feminisms, and women's empowerment. Also in 1943 was Norman Rockwell's image of 'Rosie' was depicted on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, interpreted by 19 year-old Mary Doyle, a telephone operator, who lived closely to Rockwell. He painted her image larger than Mary was physically, and later had to formally apologize to her.
Both images are not only seen as a reminder of a time in history, but as a feeling of nostalgia. The "Rosie The Riveter" will forever be an iconic symbol of independence that women finally had for a fleeting few years when they were needed during a time of war.
Rosie will forever remain in our hearts as a symbol of equality for women everywhere still to this day.