- Wikimedia Commons
“We can do it!”
That’s the slogan that appeared alongside fictional icon “Rosie the Riveter” during the famous WWII-era advertising campaign targeted toward American women on the home front.
“Rosie” was just one part of the US propaganda effort to encourage women to take on traditionally male-dominated occupations – especially in the field of war supply production – as mass conscription depleted the workforce.
The message took hold. By 1945, almost one out of four married women worked outside the home, according to History.com. However, once peace was restored, many women found themselves ousted from their wartime jobs.
Here are pictures of some of the real life women who helped make the war effort possible, all taken from 1941 to 1943. These images and captions are all courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Assembly and Repairs Department supervisor Virginia Young (right) lost her husband during the attack on Pearl Harbor. She watches as Ethel Mann (left) operates an electric drill.
Former housewife Lucile Mazurek assembles black-out lamps at Heil and Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Riveters work on a Liberator Bomber fuselage.
A worker uses a hand drill on a Vultee A-31 Vengeance dive bomber.
National Youth Administration trainee Mildred Webb operates a cutting machine as part of her eight week apprenticeship.
Mechanic Mary Josephine Farley works on a Wright Whirlwind motor.
Dorothy Lucke took a job as a wiper at a railroad roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa.
Former University of Southern California sociology major Eloise J. Ellis (right) checks in with trainee Jo Ann Whittington (left) at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Cowler Lorena Craig climbs up on a vessel at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas.
A worker drills a wing bulkhead for a transport plane.
An employee of North American Aviation, Inc., works on the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane.
An electronics technician checks on equipment at the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation in Akron, Ohio.
A North American Aviation Inc. employee works on an airplane motor.
A riveter and her supervisor look over an airplane at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Irene Bracker works at a roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa as a wiper.
Helen Ryan (top) and Agnes Cliemka (bottom) inspect gasoline trailers.
Two employees of North American Aviation, Inc., assemble a section of a wing for a P-51 fighter plane.
Rita Rodriguey works a horizontal milling machine.
Ex-department store sales clerk Beulah Faith operates a lathe machine at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.
A worker prepares metal parts on a masonite at North American Aviation, Inc. in Inglewood, California.
A worker at the Vilter Manufacturing Company files small gun parts.
Oyida Peaks trains to become a mechanic at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Former housewife Cabbie Coleman installs oxygen racks above the flight deck of an aircraft.
A Corpus Christi Naval Air Base employee works in the Assembly and Repair Department.
Eloise J. Ellis supervises cowler Cora Ann Bowen (left) at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Marcella Hart takes a break from her job as a wiper at a roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa.
Helen Bray quit school to become a mechanic at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
Wipers eat lunch at the Clinton, Iowa roundhouse.
A North American Aviation Inc. employee works on one of the motors for a B-25 bomber.
A worker assembles switch boxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers.
Chain Belt Company gist inspector Mary Betchner fits a cutter into a 105 mm howitzer.
Cloe Weaver learns to operate the turntable at a railroad roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa.
A 24-year-old former housewife files small parts for M5 and M7 guns.
A riveter works on a bomber at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sculptor Dorothy Cole converted her basement into a workshop to create parts for blood transfusion bottles.
A Consolidated Aircraft Corporation employee drills on a Liberator Bomber.
A worker inspects an M7 gun.
Mary Louise Stepan worked as a waitress before going to work at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
A Vultee employee worker touches up the U.S. Army Air Forces insignia on the side of the fuselage of a Vengeance dive bomber.