Rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak, I am copying here an excerpt from an article at the Library of Congress:
Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II
Transcript of video presentation by Sheridan Harvey
Rosie the Riveter is the female icon of Word War II. She is the home-front equivalent of G.I. Joe. She represents any woman defense worker. And for many women, she’s an example of a strong, competent foremother.
Many of us have an image in our minds when we hear “Rosie the Riveter.” Don’t you? The woman in the bandanna rolling up the sleeve on her raised bent arm.
The artist Norman Rockwell is closely associated with Rosie, but how many of you have heard of J. Howard Miller? Yet it was Miller who created this image.
I found something unexpected when I turned to Norman Rockwell’s Rosie. It appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943–the Memorial Day issue. This was not the tidy image in my mind. This Rosie is brawny and larger-than-life.
In my surprise at the two images, I decided to look into the development of the myth of Rosie the Riveter.
The chronology isn’t always clear, but it seems that about 1942, an artist at Westinghouse named J. Howard Miller created “We Can Do It!,” probably as part of his company’s war work. The federal government encouraged industries to try to get more people to go to work. “We Can Do It!” initially had no connection with someone named Rosie.
The next step in the Rosie myth was apparently the song “Rosie the Riveter” by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, released in early 1943…. CONTINUE READING AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS–>
The Library of Congress features tons of Rosie the Riveter resources, including images, articles, and links to other websites.
Another good place for information is the Rosie the Riveter organization and of course, UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office website— where you can see recorded interviews of women who worked as Rosie the Riveters.