21”H X 17”W X 17”D • 70 LBS
During the war, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter along with Four Freedoms toured the country in an effort to collect war bonds. Rosie would help raise over $132 million for the war effort, but also would help encourage over 20 million women to join the workforce by 1944.
On Memorial Day, May 29th, 1943, Rosie the Riveter made her appearance on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Norman Rockwell had chosen to portray a female factory worker taking her lunch break. The simple concept had a powerful and long lasting message behind it and would help symbolize women’s empowerment for decades to come. As part of a government campaign to encourage women to join the workforce and help fill much needed positions in factories, munitions plants, and shipyards, Rockwell did his part to stir up patriotic duty.
Based on a popular song at the time called Rosie the Riveter, Rockwell portrayed Rosie as a strong, brawny girl who is proud and ready to do her part in the war effort. As Rosie takes a short break to eat a ham sandwich, she has her lunchbox with her name written across it, a rivet gun lies across her lap, and a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf can be seen under her American-made penny loafers. She wears a work shirt and blue overalls which are adorned with several badges and buttons including a Red Cross blood donor button, a white “V for Victory” button, a Blue Star Mothers pin, an Army-Navy E Service production award pin, two bronze civilian service awards, and her personal identity badge. Peeking out of her pocket is a white handkerchief and a compact. She may be a factory worker but she’s still a woman.
During the war, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter along with Four Freedoms toured the country in an effort to collect war bonds. Rosie would help raise over $132 million for the war effort, but also would help encourage over 20 million women to join the workforce by 1944. Mary Doyle Keefe, the model for Rosie, later said how proud she was of that painting and all the money it helped raise for the war effort. “It’s a symbol of what the women did for the war, to do their part, and to give up their nail polish.” The Saturday Evening Post had a circulation of 3 million and was one of the most popular magazines at the time. Released on Memorial Day, Rockwell’s powerful image of a strong, patriotic factory worker who was proud to do her part in the war effort, was not just a campaign but a celebration of the women who had already began doing all they could to support their boys in the war.
Women, for the first time, weren’t only invited to work but were highly encouraged to fill in positions of the depleted work force that was so very needed as all able bodied men joined the military. They were considered a vital part of securing a victory and campaigns across the nation had to make sure to get that point across. According to the Basic Program Plan for Womanpower in the Office of War Information, “These jobs will have to be glorified as a patriotic war service if American women are to be persuaded to take them and stick to them. Their importance to a nation engaged in total war must be convincingly presented.” For the first time, women came to realize that they could do the same jobs that a man does. Sadly, once the war was over, the attitude towards women holding a job shifted and women were expected to hand over their jobs and go back to being housewives and mothers.
Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Rosie the Riveter, The Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1943
Art, Icons, Women's Rights “Rosie The Riveter” 1941-1945, The Pop History Dig