Category Archives: Original Rosies

Historical profiles of women welders of the past.

Putting a Face to the Name: The true story of the original Rosie the Riveter

In honor of the passing of Rosalind P. Walter, one of the original Rosie’s, we’re shining light on the famous face of Women Who Worked on the Home Front during World War II

Rosie the Riveter is the most iconic symbol of women’s empowerment. For over 75 years, the painting featuring a bandana clad woman with her sleeves rolled up, is the literal poster child for work in the trades industry. Many people know her face but did you know that most don’t know whose face it is? 

The most popular reference of Rosie is in Rosie the Riveter, a song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb in 1943. Inspired by [1] “Rosalind P. Walter, a Long Island women who was a riveter on Corsair fighter planes,” the song tells the tale of a little girl who is [2] “making history, working for victory” and doing “more than a male will do.” Even though Rosalind sounds like the perfect inspiration for the poster, she is not the woman behind the famous face. 

After the song’s release, Norman Rockwell, one of the nation’s most popular illustrators, drew a rendition of Rosie; however, his version was less feminine than the one we know today. 

Using Mary Keefe, a Vermont woman, as his model, Rockwell portrayed Rosie as masculine with hefty arms and a large rivet gun. [2] “She’s big and dirty. She’s oversized, with working-class brawn. She has no wedding ring” and is wearing men’s clothes. Rockwell’s Rosie depicts masculinity as power while the Rosie we know depicts a strong, motivational woman.

But was that what she was meant for all along? Was Rosie designed as propaganda to draw women to the workforce while the men fought diligently during World War II?

The answer is no. In fact, the wartime industrial poster, painted by J. Howard Miller, was never meant for the entire nation to see. It [1] “displayed briefly in Westinghouse Electric Corporation Plants” and “was intended only to deter absenteeism and strikes among Westinghouse employees in wartime.” 

Even though [3] “Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history, and the most iconic image of working women in the World War II era”, the woman responsible for the movement was unidentified for nearly 75 years. 

It took one man six years to uncover the real Rosie.

In 2010, Dr. James J. Kimble, [1] “an associate professor of communication and the arts at Seton Hall University in New Jersey” embarked on a quest to uncover the real Rosie. He landed first on [1] “Geraldine Doyle, who in 1942 worked briefly as a metal presser in a Michigan plant.” Doyle believed herself to be the woman in a newspaper photograph published the very same year she began work at the plant. 

In all fairness, the picture is a profile of the woman’s face and it wouldn’t be shocking to find that many women believed it was them in the photo. 

For years, Doyle was identified as Rosie so much so that it was mentioned in her 2010 obituary. Without any proof that Doyle was in fact the real Rosie, Dr. Kimble continued his search and came across [4] “a copy of the photograph with the original caption glued on the back. Dated March 1942 at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, it identified ‘Pretty Naomi Parker’ as the woman at the lathe.” 

When Dr. Kimble met with Naomi Parker, now Naomi Parker Fraley, she wasn’t shocked by his findings. [4] “In 2011, at a reunion of female war workers, she saw the Acme photo of the woman at the lathe on display and recognized herself. Then she saw the caption, with Geraldine Hoff Doyle’s name and information. Fraley wrote to the National Park Service to correct the error, but got nowhere, even though she had kept a clipping of the photo from a 1942 paper with her name in the caption.” 

In 2016, Dr. Kimble published an article, Rosie’s Secret Identity, detailing his search and the real Rosie was finally brought to light. Kimble says, [4] “I think the most important thing to her was her identity. When there’s a photo of you going around that people recognize, and yet somebody else’s name is below it, and you’re powerless to change that – that’s really going to affect you. The idea that this journal article, and the media picking it up and spreading the story, helped her regain her claim on that photo and her personal identity was really the big victory for her.” 

After 75 years, we now know the face behind one of the most iconic women in the nation’s history. J. Howard Miller’s rendition of Fraley will forever be one of the best propaganda campaigns our nation will encounter. Rosie the Riveter not only motivated citizens to provide relief to the war effort and boosted the country’s morale during wartime but inspired future generations of women to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. 

We can and we will do it!


References

[1] Fox, M. (2018). Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96. [New York Times Online Article]. Retrieved on 01/23/2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/obituaries/naomi-parker-fraley-the-real-rosie-the-riveter-dies-at-96.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news 

[2] Harvey, S. (2010). Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II. [Library of Congress Online Article]. Retrieved on 01/23/2018 from https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/journey/rosie-transcript.html 

[3] History Channel. (n.d.). Rosie the Riveter. [History Channel Online Article]. Retrieved on 01/23/2018 from http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/rosie-the-riveter 

[4] Pruitt, S. (2018). Uncovering the Secret Identity of Rosie the Riveter. [History Channel Online Article]. Retrieved on 01/30/2018 from http://www.history.com/news/rosie-the-riveter-inspiration 

Grandmother’s Stories Inspired This New Rosie

Miranda: Woman TIG WeldingMiranda Duckworth grew up hearing stories of her great grandmother Winnie Mae Long, an original Rosie working as a boilermaker at the Tampa Shipyard during World War II.

After the war her great grandmother welded side-by-side with her husband in their own welding shop.

“Her stories inspired me to follow in her footsteps,” Miranda says.

Recently Miranda was offered a boilermaker apprenticeship position in Tampa, Florida and she is currently practicing for the required welding test.

What excites you about welding?

That is a science and art combined which are my two passions in life. I have lots of practice in stick welding but have more of a knack for aluminum TIG. Continue reading

Celebrating Women’s (Welding) History with Rosie the Riveter

How it got to be March, I can’t fathom.  It seems we just got through the holidays and now we’re “Springing Forward”  (don’t forget to spring your clocks forward on Saturday night) and Women’s History Month is upon us. So in honor of Women’s History month, I thought a roundup of Rosie the Riveter history (or herstory) would be in order.

Where Did Rosie the Riveter Come From?

Rosie the Riveter

As most of you know Rosie the Riveter was an iconic (cartoon) figure who started out as a World War II era Norman Rockwell illustration for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post and became a propaganda poster to inspire women working at Westinghouse to support the war effort, filling jobs vacated by our young men who’d joined the military.

Did you know that there was a Rosie the Riveter SONG? Continue reading

Women Welders Yesterday and Today

We’ve been seeing a lot in the news about the shortage of welders, and a kind of PR campaign to encourage women in the welding industry.  You know here at CarmenElectrode.com and Arc-Zone.com we’ve been dedicated to supporting women welders since the inception of this blog over six years ago.

We put together a playlist of some amazing women working in metal, starting with a great overview of the history of steel interview.  Did you know that women worked in the welding industry in the early 1900s!

Some women may be intimidated by entering a field so dominated by men (the American Welding Society estimates that only 5% of welders are women), so we have some Tips for Women in the welding industry.  And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our interviews with women working in the industry today– metal artists, welding instructors, structural steel welders, union pipefitters, and shop fabricators.

And did you know Arc-Zone.com was one of the first companies to carry the AngelFire line of welding gear for women?

Angel Fire women's hybrid cotton/ leather welding jacket

So if you, or any female fabricators you know, would like to be featured as a New Rosie, let us know.

And if you need some top of the line welding accessories (including that snazzy jacket above), give us a call at Arc-Zone.com (800-944-2243 toll free US or 760-931-1500 worldwide). Our customer care team will make sure you get what you need to get your welding job done!

Dress like a Real Woman Welder for Halloween: The New Rosie

It’s that time of year when dressing like Rosie the Riveter becomes popular and even though Rosie was a riveter, she would have dressed the same had she been a welder.  Safety gear, and proper clothing has always been important….

The iconic image of Rosie we all gravitate to was not only strong and capable, but also a sweet, sexy, and stylish woman.  Kind of the ideal woman (welder).  But did you know there were practical reasons for women dressing for work the way they did?

Fashions were influenced by the safety needs of women working in factories and some were influenced by the fact that many resources were being rationed during World War II.

Here’s an excerpt of Safety Clothing for Women in Industry: special bulletin No. 3 of the Women’s Bureau (.pdf) :

The Well-Dressed Woman in Industry is a Safe Worker

Safety clothing is designed for its attractiveness as well as its utility. It has become fashionable to dress and act so that accidents cannot happen. The girl who is afraid to carry a mirror lest she bring bad luck by breaking it has become the girl who knows that accidents have definite causes that can be avoided.

 

Even though I find these old bulletins and safety posters amusing, I can’t help but be a little offended–  did women of the 1940s really need to be told to not wear high heels to a welding job?  Contrary to popular lore, women (at least those in the “working” classes) had been working all along, even in factories.  The tone of these instructions seems so patronizing, but maybe I’m applying today’s standards and today’s attitudes in a way that is unfair.

VelvetArc(TM)  Woman's Premium Flame Resistant Welding Jacket

 

Today’s woman welder has access to much more in terms of safety gear (thanks to technology for one) and she can also look fashionable wearing safety gear, and most important, have gear that fits, thanks to companies like AngelFire™ and their line of welding safety gear for women.

This chocolate brown welding jacket designed for women is made of brushed cotton and has adjustable cuffs and waist straps to make it fit perfectly.

I have child-sized hands… so those big man-hand gloves you find at most welding supply shops don’t even come close to fitting my hand.  But the AngelFire welding gloves do…. plus they match the chocolate brown jacket.
Hot Pink Welding HelmetAnd the latest thing offered by manufacturers?  This hot pink auto darkening welding helmet.  This is a top of the line helmet from our friends at Miller.

If your eyes aren’t what they used to be…  at Arc-Zone you can add a removable magnifier lens when you order.

So you can dress like Rosie for Halloween– The New Rosie:  a competent woman welder.

But if you want to go retro, here are some resources:

Women’s 1940s Hairstyles: An Overview (great article about the history of the styles and where else will you learn what a “snood” is?)

1940s Vintage Hairstyle Videos (several how-to videos for styling your hair int an Up-do or a Victory Rolls)

1940s : Fashion on the Home Front:  lots of good tips on types of clothing from trouser selection to overalls and sturdy, low-heeled shoes.