Their Own Words:
Documenting Richmond Women through
Rosie the Riveter Memorial project, undertaken by
the City of Richmond, worked to capture the memories
of women who worked at the Kaiser Shipyards in several
ways. In 1998-99, Project Director Donna Graves developed
a collaborative educational program at Richmond's
Kennedy High School with Community Works, a local
non-profit organization dedicated to bringing multi-cultural
arts programs to schools and community groups.
Photo of Kennedy High School
with "Rosies" Lucy Cortes and Vera
Photo of Kaiser Shipyard welding
Museum of History
were able to interview "Rosies" and to study
the historical context for their work on the Home
Front. Excerpts from the interviews and photographs
by Community Works' Executive Director, Ruth Morgan,
were included in an exhibition on interpreting Richmond's
war-time history at the Richmond Museum of History
in Spring 2000.
2000 the Rosie the Riveter Project completed the first
phase of an oral history project designed to capture
the memories of a diverse group of women who worked
in Richmond during the war. Eighteen women shared
their recollections of day-to-day life and work during
the war years in audiotaped and videotaped interviews.
The range of stories and life experiences is remarkable
- from women who migrated to work at the Kaiser Shipyards
as young brides from Texas or Louisiana to others
who joined the war effort while still in high school.
Work histories ranged from welding, tool checking
and drafting to the experience of one woman who started
driving a truck at the Shipyards, then founded her
own Richmond-based taxicab company.
were fortunate to receive a great deal of donated
labor on this project. UC Davis Professor Roger Rouse
helped us to find a group of dedicated women who conducted
the interviews: Cheryl Cherney, Amanda Littauer, Heather
McCarty and Meredith McMonigle brought great enthusiasm
to the task of helping women to recall people and
events from over fifty years ago. They received training
and the use of professional recording equipment through
our partnership with the National Park Service.
addition to overseeing the audio interviews, Donna
Graves completed eight broadcast quality video interviews
through a partnership with local filmmaker, Jon Plutte.
Jon is a Richmond native and contacted us as he began
to plan for a documentary film on wartime Richmond.
He and photographer James Fortier brought considerable
expertise to our efforts -- they recently completed
the award-winning documentary "We Hold the Rock,"
about the Native American occupation of Alcatraz.
are, of course, most grateful to the women who consented
to share their memories: Lucy Cortes, Mabel Draxton,
Phyllis Gould, Ollie M. Hawkins, Mary Lee Head, Vera
Dean Lee, Ivaja Miller, Vera Minkner, Ludie Mitchell,
Bethena Moore, Ruth Powers, Mary Ellen Rounseville,
Mary Sisneros, Betty Reid Soskin, Marian Sousa, Willa
Mae Thomas, Louisa Wilkerson and Arthur Lee Wilson.
are currently seeking funding to take the raw material
of these interviews and translate them into forms
that can be accessible to the public. To donate artifacts
or to tell your story of working in the shipyards
and other wartime industries or as a public employee
in the Richmond area during the war, please write
to: Rosie the Riveter Trust, 117 Park Place, Richmond
CA 94807 or email email@example.com.
THE RIVETER PROJECT AT THE BANCROFT LIBRARY
the establishment of the Rosie the Riveter/World War
II Home Front National Historical Park, the City of
Richmond, National Park Service and the Regional Oral
History Office (ROHO) at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft
Library, partnered to extend our previous oral history
efforts. Under the guidance of ROHO Director Richard
Candida Smith, National Park Superintendent Judy Hart
and Chief of Interpretation Rick Smith, and Memorial
Project Director Donna Graves, nearly fifty additional
interviews were conducted with men and women about
their lives and wartime experiences in Richmond. The
project was generously funded by the California Coastal
Conservancy. More information can be found at http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/rosie/
Women who do not live in Richmond, California, please
go to the Share Your Home Front
Story Page. To donate memorabilia, please go to
the Gift Form Page.