Just imagine young American women in the 1940s, at home doing a traditional job of cooking and child care, or engaged in badly paid labor in the fields, or serving as a cook, nanny or domestic servant for others. Few of these women ever imagined they would go to college, work in a trade, or become a professional, and even fewer imagined wielding influence in the world.
Many “Rosies” stepped up to gain skilled jobs and fill the shoes of men departing overseas. They learned trades and became riveters, welders and machinists, office workers and analysts, electricians and engineers, filling millions of jobs that were critical to the war effort. These women were thrust into new work experiences because they often took jobs rarely, if ever, held by a woman.
At first, many encountered resistance and even ridicule. But Rosie stepped up. She not only tackled new tasks on the job, she also took on new tasks at home — recycling every scrap of metal and even silk nylon stockings, rationing food and household goods, and then growing “victory gardens” on top of it all.
About 6 million women entered the workforce during the war. Their experience is documented at the Rosie the Riveter WWII/Home Front National Historical Park, on the bay just across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The museum has a wealth of interactive exhibits, multi-media resources and informative presentations.
The national park’s programs are supported by the Rosie the Riveter Trust, which raises funds to expand park programming, bring youth to the park, acquire historic artifacts and develop new public education efforts.
On April 7, the trust will hold its annual fundraising dinner, “Growing a Rosie Future,” and honor original WWII Rosies.
Keynote speaker Jerry Anne Di Vecchio, food editor at Sunset magazine for more than 40 years, will share tales of WWII victory gardens, the post-war burgeoning of food processing, and the return to naturally-grown foods.
During the war, women were encouraged to “Dig for Victory” and to “Grow Vitamins at Your Kitchen Door” by the government’s nationwide marketing campaign.
Victory gardens allowed mass food production to go to feeding the troops. Working women and stay-at-home wives alike were asked to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and to take up home canning so their gardens could feed their families year round.
The Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park celebrates these efforts during Women’s History Month and every day. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week (closed on three major national holidays).
Bring a young student or a parent or grandparent for a walk through compelling stories about ordinary extraordinary people working for the common good. The trust website lists regular special events; and don’t miss the chance to meet “real-life Rosies” every Friday, when women who worked during the war are on hand to meet visitors.
Rosies and homefront necessities expanded both opportunities and demands for WWII-era women, who stepped up to greater responsibilities on the job and new duties at home, but in taking on these challenges, they paved the way for new respect, new careers, and better pay for women.
I invite you to visit our national park in Richmond, the national flagship site to tell the Rosie story, and to enjoy the remarkable history of positive social change stimulated by a time of national crisis. We hope you will support our efforts to honor these remarkable women, and to instill the “We Can Do It” spirit in generations to come.
Marsha Mather-Thrift is the executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust, which supports the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. For tickets for the April 7 fundraising dinner, visit RosieTheRiveterTrust.org.
View the original article here