Rosie the Riveter is an allegorical cultural icon of World War II, representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who joined the military. Rosie the Riveter is used as a symbol of American feminism and women's economic advantage.
Similar images of women war workers appeared in other countries such as Britain and Australia. The idea of Rosie the Riveter originated in a song written in 1942 by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. Images of women workers were widespread in the media in formats such as government posters, and commercial advertising was heavily used by the government to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories. Rosie the Riveter became the subject and title of a Hollywood film in 1944.
Westinghouse poster: We Can Do It!
In 1942, Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the Westinghouse Company's War Production Coordinating Committee to create a series of posters for the war effort. One of these posters became the famous "We Can Do It!" image, an image that in later years would also be called "Rosie the Riveter" although it had never been given that title during the war. Miller is thought to have based his "We Can Do It!" poster on a United Press International wire service photograph taken of a young female war worker, widely but erroneously reported as being a photo of Michigan war worker Geraldine Hoff (later Doyle).
More recent evidence indicates that the formerly misidentified photo is actually of war worker Naomi Parker (later Fraley) taken at Alameda Naval Air Station in California. The "We Can Do It!" poster was displayed only to Westinghouse employees in the Midwest during a two-week period in February 1943, then it disappeared for nearly four decades. During the war, the name "Rosie" was not associated with the image, and the purpose of the poster was not to recruit women workers but to be motivational propaganda aimed at workers of both sexes already employed at Westinghouse. It was only later, in the early 1980s, that the Miller poster was rediscovered and became famous, associated with feminism, and often mistakenly called "Rosie the Riveter"....
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