In partnership with the Regional Oral History Office at UC Berkeley, the park has brought former Rosies and home front workers together to be interviewed in this compelling series of videos. There are nearly two hundred interviews in this archive that chronicles an amazing part of our history. These include many local Richmond stories, including a tale of the Boxcar Village in Richmond told by Bertha Hicks, and an interview with the oldest Park Ranger and former worker in a Jim Crow Union Hall, Betty Reid Soskin. Clips from some of these interviews appear in the film, Hometown Heroes, shown at the Visitor Center.
Allied victory during World War II was supported by the contributions and sacrifices of the men and women working on the American Home Front. Women, who worked in defense industries, became known as "Rosie the Riveters", named after a popular song written in 1942. Although the name of the park starts with "Rosie the Riveter" NPS are committed to collecting a wide range of stories that relate to the American Home Front. Your story and perspective of the World War II Home Front is unique and important. Please consider sharing your memories with us.
National Park Service (NPS) submission guidelines:
A wide variety of exhibits on loan and temporary display tell many parts of the Home Front story, including vignettes about recycling, rationing, labor struggles, medical innovations, recruitment of women into the workforce and more. Daily films and ranger tours provide a variety of perspectives on this unique chapter in U.S. history. The Visitor Education Center and our online resources connect people passionate about history so that we can contribute to its preservation and inspire current generations to understand where they have come from and where they might yet go in creating a just and equitable society.
1414 Harbour Way South, Suite #3000 (Oil House) Richmond, CA 94804
Open daily: 10am-5pm | (510) 232-5050 x0
(Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day)
Your support will help us to develop new programs for schoolchildren and a transportation fund for schools in need. For the last year, the park has been working with teachers to develop a pilot training program. Our goal is to engage more school groups in visiting and learning.
The Visitor Center offers new opportunities for teachers to bring children of all ages to learn about the contributions made by grandparents and great-grandparents during the WWII Home Front era. Children also learn important stories about innovation and social changes that we now take for granted today. On Rosie Fridays, four of the original Rosies, who worked in a variety of wartime jobs, visit with children and other visitors to talk about what it was like when women entered the workforce in startling new ways and at a time when women’s jobs were highly restricted.
The "We Can Do It" attitude that pervades Home Front history inspires Richmond youth to new heights. Teens involved in Rosie's Girls learn to take on challenges similar to those women faced during WWII, learning welding, carpentry and more. Each summer these middle school girls, mostly from low-income families in Richmond, tackle a variety of new challenges through which they build inner strength along with job skills, explore their hopes and dreams, and expand horizons as they learn about unusual careers for women. Career options highlight a wide range of possibilities in the Bay Area ranging from mounted policewoman to engineer.
BUILDING STRONG GIRLS
Rosie's Girls is a national program designed to build self-esteem, leadership and physical confidence through an exploration of trades and non-traditional activities.
In 2016, our Rosie's Girls Summer Camp Program was honored by Public Lands Alliance with the Partnership Award for Outstanding Public Engagement. Read more about this honor, and about the work we do for young girls in Richmond, in our Member Spotlight.
Our Every Kid in a Park program provides thousands of fourth graders with a chance to learn important WWII and social change history, a healthy one mile hike on the Bay Trail, and an opportunity to understand the joy of the outdoors and the need to protect natural treasures like San Francisco Bay. Every child also receives a one year pass to visit any national park for free with their family. The Trust brings more than 1200 children from underserved classrooms to the park each year by providing funding for bus transportation. For many, it’s their only field trip.
An inspiring and compelling saga of human struggle, courage and inspiration unfolded barely seventy-five years ago, during the 1940s, across the United States. Ordinary but quite extraordinary people stepped up to the huge challenge of a world engulfed in war, helped to win an unequaled victory, and in the process, created some of our society's most important social advances, including workplace integration, equal work opportunities for women, early childhood education and more. These stories inspire us today.
Our work to collect stories and artifacts doesn't stop at the museum. The goal is to share these stories in a variety of ways, and to display their relevance to our lives and choices today. The home front story (made up of millions of small stories) is a reminder that we can do anything if we put our will and our resources together.
Thanks to our new Visitor Center, thousands of visitors can now explore these stories first-hand through films, daily ranger tours, lecture events and the variety of home front sites we've been able to open to the public. The Visitor Center museum showcases thousands of artifacts in our collection. Explore the links on this site to recorded oral histories collected by the ROHO Oral history project at UC Berkeley in partnership with the park. With your help, we will create new tools to tell these stories across the country.
Richmond contains more intact WWII Home Front sites than any other place in the U.S. It has been designated as "flagship" site for telling the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front story because visitors can explore a wealth of sites that bring this history alive across the cityscape.
In sleepy Richmond, a town of 20,000 on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, a behemoth of innovation came alive as more than 100,000 people migrated overnight to the city to seek better jobs and support the war effort. Home to a massive WII industrial scale-up which epitomized the national war effort, Richmond led in outstanding feats of shipbuilding, worker production, and employer innovations that established model social support programs for workers, including childcare and pre-paid health plans.
Restored and new sites that can be visited include the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, the Oil House Visitor Center, the beautiful Ford Assembly Plant designed by Albert Kahn, the historic Maritime Childcare Center, the Red Oak Victory ship and the Whirley Crane, as well as many trailside displays at the Port, along the Bay Trail and on MacDonald Avenue. Non-restored areas contain wartime worker housing, a hospital, and other landmarks from this era. See the Park Map to plan your trip. The best place to start is the Visitor Center, open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas- Dec. 25th, and New Year's Day).
Marsha Mather-Thrift is a veteran nonprofit organization manager and fundraiser with more than 25 years of experience. She has been Executive Director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust for the last five years, coordinating with the Trust board and National Park staff to open a new Visitor Center and Gift Store, complete a historic building renovation, and build a program designed to raise short and long-term resources for the park.
After her first nonprofit job as Program Director at the Fort Mason Foundation, the nonprofit association that developed GGNRA's Fort Mason Cultural Center, she served in a variety organizational capacity-building roles, including Associate Director for Bluewater Network, Director of Development (nationally) and simultaneously as Director of West Coast Operations for Friends of the Earth, consultant and then founding Development Director for San Francisco BayKeeper (growing it from seed grants to a $1 million plus regional organization), and as Executive Director of the California Center for Wildlife (now WildCare). She has also led organizational development and fundraising for other local and regional nonprofits, including Golden Gate Audubon Society, as well as consulting clients, such as College of Marin Arts and Lectures and Greenpeace. She holds an MA degree from U.C. Davis and completed PhD studies at Columbia University before deciding on a nonprofit career. She has served on several environmental and youth boards, including Earth Share of California's statewide board as Vice President and received the Helen Glenny Award for outstanding service from Earthshare twice, as well as an Environmental Hero award from Friends of the Earth.
Tom Leatherman is currently the Superintendent at four National Park Service historic sites in the East Bay - Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, John Muir National Historic Site, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. He started his National Park Service (NPS) career in 1989 as an intern at Pinnacles National Monument. He went on to work in several parks in the West as a seasonal employee before getting his first permanent job back at Pinnacles in 1995. Years later, as the chief of natural and cultural resource management at Pinnacles, he was able to build a nationally recognized natural resource program, including the reintroduction of California condors and red-legged frogs. In 2005 he was selected as the superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site in the Eastern Sierra. He served in this position for three years before coming back home to the bay area (he grew up in Santa Cruz) to take the position as the Deputy Superintendent of the four historic sites in the East Bay. He was selected as the Superintendent of these sites in January of 2011. Tom lives in San Ramon and while not at work he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking and cooking.
Vera Chang Rowsey. First generation American. My parents met at International House on the U.C. Berkeley campus prior to WWII as foreign students. I have two degrees from U.C. Berkeley and was an elementary and secondary History teacher and an elementary, middle and high school administrator for the West Contra Costa Unified School District before I retired in 2011.
Nicholas Targ practices environmental and land use law with the San Francisco office of the international law firm, Holland and Knight LLP. His practice focuses on complex redevelopment projects, environmental compliance and government advocacy. Representative work includes strategic legal advice on brownfields redevelopment, Superfund compliance, environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and state and federal grant and policy advocacy. Mr. Targ has successfully advocated for infill funding and policy initiatives on behalf of public, private and nonprofit coalition clients.
Nicholas' grandmother, Dr. Regina Pustan, an immigrant, was a welder in the San Juan (Washington) ship yards during World War II. He grew-up understanding the critical importance of industry, labor and perseverance.
Before joining Holland & Knight, Nicholas served in leadership positions with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance, including Counsel and Associate Director to the Office of Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.
Nicholas also served in the Solicitor’s Office of the Department of the Interior, representing the Department on a wide range of natural resources, park system, and hazardous materials issues. While at Interior, he had the good fortune to work with National Park Service Director, Roger Kennedy, and Judy Hart, who managed the legislation establishing the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Historical Park and later served as the Park's first superintendent.
Committed to service and scholarship, Nicholas co-founded the Howard University School of Law Environmental Law and Sustainability Program and taught environmental law and environmental justice as an adjunct professor. Presently, he is an adjunct professor at UC Hastings School of Law, teaching land use law. In 2013 Nicholas was recognized by the American Bar Association, with Environment, Energy and Resources Section "Dedication to Justice and Diversity Award."
Letitia D. Moore is a Senior Counsel with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ms. Moore is a former Mayor of the City of El Cerrito, California. Ms. Moore was also First Vice-President of the El Cerrito Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a Member of the Board of the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) of Contra Costa County. Ms. Moore has also worked with the American Bar Association and the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California to promote diversity in the field of environmental law. Ms. Moore holds a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University (1986) and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law (1989).