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Rosie the Riveter

October 17, 2009

We're sure you've heard stories about the mass exodus of World War II wives from homefront housewifery into hard and treacherous factory labor. And we're also pretty certain you've seen the famed poster of a woman in a head scarf flexing a massive bicep exclaiming, "WE CAN DO IT!" in a navy blue, overhead bubble quote. You've probably even heard the catchy jingle which opens, "All the day long/Whether rain or shine/She's a part of the assembly line/She's making history/Working for victory/Rosie the Riveter."

But we wonder how much you really know about Rosie the Riveter.

It's kind of a trick challenge, considering Rosie isn't real. Well, not in the social security number/birth certificate identifiable sense of the world. She's a folk legend. After making her first appearance in February 1943, Rosie the Riveter became a "mascot" of sorts for the women's work movement. Illustrated by J. Howard Miller and used to inspired women to apply for and hold down factory jobs in the absence of their husbands and for the support of their families, Rosie's visage and ad campaign just may be responsible for the six million plus women from all backgrounds and from all over the country, who worked at industrial jobs, upholding the standard of American productivity while the War was fought and won.

She's still used today to promote women's rights issues and to raise awareness of women's historical contribution to WWII. Aside from the song penned by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, Rosie the Riveter was also the title character in 1944 feature comedy starring Jane Frazee. A documentary called The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter was also released in 1980. In 2002, Sotheby's auctioned Norman Rockwell's painting of Rosie the Riveter for $4,959,500.

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