It’s the middle of September and I have my Halloween costume picked out. I’m very rarely so prepared at this stage of the game, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m finding that I need to put as much, if not more thought into my costumes than I did as a kid. There will be at least one party hosted by friends and I’ll need something for our annual bash at Woods Run.
This year, I’m going with something that I can put together with items from my closet and a $3-4 trip to the fabric store – Rosie the Riveter.
Simple, yet effective, right?
And of course, I’ve been doing some research on the history of the illustration. Our girl, now commonly known as Rosie, was created by J. Howard Miller, a graphic artist who lived in Pittsburgh during WWII. The poster was commissioned by Westinghouse Electric, and only displayed internally in the company’s factories in East Pittsburgh and the Midwest during February of 1943 – more to inspire the women already working than to recruit – then it disappeared. The poster was rediscovered by the National Archives in 1982 – the art was unlicensed and it became the feminist symbol we know and love today.
It was Norman Rockwell’s illustration that had far more traction during the war, especially in connection with a popular song at the time also called “Rosie the Riveter.” While the image was loaned out by Rockwell to the US Treasury for use in propaganda during the war, the copyright kept it from reaching true icon status. The video below from the Library of Congress is well worth the watch for more information about Rockwell and other art from the time:
For further reading about women in World War II home-front propaganda and the real ladies who held it down in the factories, check out these books and this collection of photos!
– Jess, who needs to make herself a vintage Westinghouse Electric badge