We've all seen the image: a strong woman staring boldly at us with a sense of strength and purpose behind her eyes, a polka-dot bandanna tied around her hair. Of course, I'm describing the famous "Rosie the Riveter" drawing. The image was originally used to inspire women to join the war effort during WWII in the ways in which they were allowed at the time, primarily in munitions production and supplies.
Most of these women replaced men who originally had these jobs until the men went off to fight. Many look at this surge of women in the workforce as laying the groundwork for the modern woman's movement. "Rosie the Riveter" has remained a powerful image for female empowerment and liberation. For once, women depicted as only wives and mothers were being seen as a strong and important part of the American workforce.
There were many women who claimed to be the model for the famed image, including, most notably Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who had been widely accepted as Rosie for decades But according to the New York Times, a search for the true Rosie, which a scholar named James J. Kimble began in 2010, revealed that the real model was a woman by the name of Naomi Parker Fraley.
The famed poster was based on this photo of a woman at a lathe...
According to the New York Times, Kimble went on a search for the original photograph. And finally:
... he found a copy from a vintage-photo dealer. It carried the photographer’s original caption, with the date — March 24, 1942 — and the location, Alameda. Best of all was this line: 'Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating.'
And there it was. Naomi Parker Fraley was the iconic "Rosie the Riveter."
On Monday, Fraley passed away at the age of 96, having finally been recognized for inspiring generations of women.
Many people expressed their gratitude...
The original inspiration for "Rosie the Riveter" has passed away Longview, WA at the age of 96. Glad she was around to see all the women empowerment she inspired and to know it will continue through the #MeToo era. RIP Naomi Parker Fraley. You changed a nation. pic.twitter.com/a2wi51UIym— Kim Shepard (@SeattleShepard) January 23, 2018
My grandmother came to Hollywood from South Dakota to be in movies; she ended up in the Naval shipyards as a riveter. She and women like Naomi Parker Fraley helped us win WWII.— 🇺🇸Danny Mendoza Votes🇺🇸 (@DMendoza2032) January 24, 2018
They inspired women to reach for more.
They made their sons better men. https://t.co/tBRA1MokWK
Even the U.S. Department of Defense chimed in:
We remember Naomi Parker Fraley, the inspiration for "Rosie the Riveter." Fraley was photographed working at a Naval Air Station after the #PearlHarbor attack. The photo reportedly inspired the colorful poster. Fraley died Saturday at the age of 96. We thank her for her service. pic.twitter.com/RV4OanfdRx— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) January 23, 2018
Others focused on the legacy she would leave behind:
Naomi Parker Fraley, the unsung inspiration behind the iconic Rosie the Riveter, passed away this week at the age of 96. The image she inspired encouraged generations of women to rise up, make themselves heard, and know their power. https://t.co/g0W9DTZXaH— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 23, 2018
In a 2016 interview with People Magazine, Naomi Parker Fraley said:
The women of this country these days need some icons. If they think I’m one, I’m happy about that.
Today we lost icon, Naomi Parker Fraley (age 96), who inspired Rosie the Riveter & would become the face of #feminism. In 2016 she told @people “The women of this country these days need some icons. If they think I’m one, I’m happy about that,” https://t.co/qqlbZUdkJR pic.twitter.com/JUWInFL8Q4— WHAM Global (@WHAMGlobal) January 23, 2018