Real-Life Rosie The Riveters: The Factory Women Who Helped The US Win World War II

Published November 11, 2016
Updated February 10, 2017
Reflection
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Head Sticking Out
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Woman With Glasses
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Two Tubes
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Yellow Hat
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Goggles
Jack Delano/Library of Congress

Blue Uniform
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Large Tubes
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Coffee Break
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Painting Star
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Overhead
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Large Machinery
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Factory Worker
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Metal
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Red Bandana
Jack Delano/Library of Congress

Electrical Work
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Riveting
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

At Bench
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

At Work
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Baggy Pants
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Bandana
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Curved Metal Tubes
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Flannel
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Green Pail
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Holding Jars
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Navy Plane
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Navy
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

On Back
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Painting Red And Yellow
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Painting White Star
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Pink Outfit
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Spray Paint
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Red Clothing
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Sitting Down
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Smile Button
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Rivets
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Stare
Jack Delano/Library of Congress

Three Women
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Two Women Working
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Windows
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Women On The Job
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Yellow Rivets
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Women Smiling
Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress

Yellow Tunnel
Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress

Even today, 73 years after the creation of the poster that made her famous, most of us can still instantly recognize Rosie the Riveter. The character indeed took root in the American consciousness by evolving beyond its original purpose -- getting women into the factory workforce during World War II -- and soon became a feminist touchstone.

But as important a symbol as Rosie has become, how many of us understand the original context from which she arose?

Did you know, for example, that more than 19 million women worked in essential roles contributing to the war effort, especially in the factories once deemed the domain of men? In aircraft factories, for one, women represented the majority of the workforce by the middle of the war.

And in touring those factories, a handful of photographers left us with some stunning images that now allow us to see these real-life Rosie the Riveters in action.


Next, have a look at the women behind the creation of the famous Rosie the Riveter posters. Then, read up on the eight most bad-ass women of World War II.

author
John Kuroski
author
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
editor
Savannah Cox
editor
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Kuroski, John. "Real-Life Rosie The Riveters: The Factory Women Who Helped The US Win World War II." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 11, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/rosie-the-riveter-history. Accessed May 27, 2024.