Researching Rosies: You Never Know What You’ll Find

I’ve begun to research Rosies, starting with the original Rosie the Riveters to have an  understanding of the history from which our “New Rosies” come.

2179234054_50d6c354b7_mI’ve accessed the Oral Histories of many Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front Oral History Project at UC Berkeley.

Many of the stories they have gathered revolve around the Richmond Shipyards…. I am fascinated by how the foundations of many important social and political movements intersect at the factory where Rosie worked.

During the Depression tens of thousands escaped the Dust Bowl in search of jobs and headed west to work in the fields.  Then, during World War II manufacturing ramped up to build ships and vehicles and airplanes for the War Effort.

Dustbowl Farm photo by Dorothea Lange

Scenes from the Dustbowl: A Dustbowl farm. Coldwater District, north of Dalhart, Texas. This house is occupied; most of the houses in this district have been abandoned. Photo by Dorothea Lange

Oakland became home to many war related industries:  Kaiser Shipyards, Moore Dry Dock Company, and the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, to name a few.  Richmond also supported a large canning industry, and of course there was the Rail Road.

As I listened to these oral herstories and read the transcripts I became aware of all the changes that were happening at that time and all the important issues that I can look at through the lens of these Rosies–perhaps that is part of the reason why the image of and the idea of Rosie has endured.

Some of the Rosie the Riveters tell stories about coming from farms to the city, meeting and working with people from all over the country and from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.  There were even workers that came from Mexico as part of the Bracero program.  Rosies’ stories are not just the stories of changing gender roles, they are the stories of immigrants, of war, of Japanese internment, of racial inequality, of corporate responsibility, of gentrification, desegregation, and of changing industries. Stories we are still grappling with today.

Check out the collection of oral histories from folks living and working on the home front during World War II. The project is a collaboration between the City of Richmond and the National Park Service interviewing residents of the Bay Area about their wartime experiences.


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Her Grandmother was a Rosie the Riveter!

One of the most amazing things about writing for the CarmenElectrode blog is writing profiles of some amazing women, and getting some great stories. I love the idea of the torch being passed from Grandmother to Granddaughter!

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.


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Rosie inspired gift idea

It’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve been busy working on the blog again.  Ran across THIS fantastic calendar of Rosies:



Great gift idea for Rosie afficionados– plus the money raised supports the wonderful programs offered by the Washington Women in the Trades, while preserving some living history and honoring the amazing women who went to work for the War effort.

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A Wendy the Welder in Newport, AK

I found this article at the Newport Independent about Ruth White of Newport, AK who worked as a welder, not a riveter:

‘Ruthie the Welder’ does her part

With the arrival of Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Armed Forces Day and Independence each year, thoughts turn to those men and women who served in the armed forces during those times.
However, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor some 70 years ago, one local woman performed her wartime duties as her husband prepared to ship overseas.

During 1942-43, Ruth White worked in the Kaiser Liberty Shipyards in Richmond, Calif. as a part of the “Rosie the Riveter” crews in the United States.

The crews were made up mostly of housewives whose husbands had shipped overseas as part of the war effort during World War II and they began to take jobs in factories, often building ships and planes for the government.

Those crews spawned a “Wendy the Welder” offshoot group based on Janet Doyle, a welder at the same shipyard as White.

“I started as a tacker and finished as a general welder and welded the seams of the ships,” White recounted recently as she discussed her contribution.

Read the rest of the article onlne–>

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West Virginia is honoring Rosies at a new  Rosie the Riveter Park:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — They built fleets of Avengers and Marauders, aircraft that Americans flew into battle during World War II. They carefully assembled countless explosive fuses and separated the chemicals for making TNT. Unknowingly at the time, some even crafted parts for the atomic bombs that helped end the war.

They are West Virginians who served on the home front, among the millions of women who worked at defense plants to supply the war effort. They are the real lives behind the cultural icon known as Rosie the Riveter, and they’ve begun telling their stories while they still can.


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Women’s Stories Come to Life at NYU

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New Rosies in Pueblo, CO

This video showcases the women who work at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, from electrical field engineers to pipefitters, iron workers and other craft workers.

The plant cites that women make up 21% of the total workforce, however, of those only 21 were “craft workers” which is less than 2% (nationally women make up approximately 6% of trade workers)

At any rate, it’s nice to see the company celebrating these amazing women. And remember We Can Do It!

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