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The real story behind this war poster

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Channel: Vox
Categories: Society / Culture   |   Social Science  
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Rosie the riveter is iconic. But whats the real story behind the poster?

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In this episode of Vox Almanac, Voxs Phil Edwards explores the story behind the women riveters of World War II.

During World War II, millions of women entered manufacturing and the workforce in general. How did the labor pool change so dramatically, so quickly? And how does it connect to the familiar poster of Rosie the riveter that people still love today?

These riveters came from other industries and outside the workforce, guided with the help of private industry and some government agencies. The US Employment Service helped place men and women at wartime jobs, and the Womens Bureau and War Manpower Commission helped find and train that labor.

The traditional Rosie the riveter story is not without its omissions: white women benefited most from labor changes, and many of the riveters were already in the labor force before World War II began. But in a significant way, World War II did change work for women around the United States.

Further Reading

Karen Andersons Wartime Women ( is the definitive book about Womens Labor in World War II. It tells the story of the changing labor pool with extensive research into government, corporate, and union records.

FRASER, the Federal Reserves Library, is one of the easiest places to find Womens Bureau records and papers (its where the ones in this video were downloaded from).

Creating Rosie the Riveter by Maureen Honey offers a peek into another aspect of wartime recruitment: propaganda distributed by the government to magazines and newspapers to promote the wartime agenda. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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