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Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Original Rosie The Riveter

[above image from the Chicago Tribune]

One of the many who left us in 2010, Geraldine Doyle didn't profit financially from her fame although she did sign Rosie posters as long as she was able to do so.


Geraldine Doyle, inspiration for 'Rosie the Riveter,' dies at 86

By Elizabeth Chuck

With a red and white bandana in her hair and factory worker uniform sleeves rolled up to reveal her bulging biceps, Rosie the Riveter was painted on a World War II recruitment poster in 1942. But for four decades, the real Rosie the Riveter had no idea she was the woman who inspired it.

Perhaps it was because Geraldine Doyle left her factory job after two weeks – or because she didn’t actually have bulging biceps – that Doyle, who died at 86 years old on Sunday in Lansing, Mich., didn’t know for so long that she was the model for what would became a symbol of women’s empowerment.

Doyle was 17 in 1942 and had been hired as a metal presser at a factory close to her home in Inkster, Mich., to help the war effort, her daughter Stephanie Gregg told the New York Times. One day, a United Press International photographer came to the steelworks factory and took a picture of Doyle leaning over machinery, a red and white polka-dot bandana covering her hair (see the original photo here). Later that year, the government commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce morale-boosting posters that would motivate workers and recruit women to join the war workforce. The UPI photo of Doyle, a slender brunette that her daughter calls “a glamour girl,” caught his eye.

Meanwhile, Doyle – a cellist – learned that a worker had injured her hands at the factory, and decided to get a safer job at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, according to the Washington Post.

In 1984, married to a dentist and a mother to five children, Doyle came across an article in former AARP publication Modern Maturity magazine that connected her photo with the wartime poster, which she hadn’t seen before.

“The arched eyebrows, the beautiful lips, the shape of the face – that’s her,” daughter Gregg told the Times. But, she said, “she didn’t have those big muscles. She was busy playing cello.”

Nonetheless, when she saw it, she said, “This is me!” Gregg told the Lansing State Journal.

Rosie the Riveter became a lasting emblem. In the early 1940s, Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb wrote a song named after her. In 1943, the Saturday Evening Post put a Norman Rockwell illustration of another female worker with the name “Rosie” painted on her lunch pail. In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service created a “We Can Do It!” stamp.

For years, Doyle signed Rosie the Riveter t-shirts, posters, and more. While many profited from her image, she never charged a penny to fans, her daughter said.

"She would say that she was the 'We Can Do It!' girl," Gregg told the Lansing State Journal. "She never wanted to take anything away from the other Rosies."

The Washington Post has a more detailed tribute HERE.

Please watch the following history lesson, "Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II":

Of course, I feel a special connection with Rosie because of my blogging avatar, suggested by Beamish and customized by Warren. Since I acquired my avatar, I have collected items emblazoned with Rosie's image, including a t-shirt, refrigerator magnets, a tote bag, and a coffee mug. For me, she symbolizes strength and patriotism.

May Geraldine Doyle rest in peace.


  1. I remember reading she had died this past year.

    Nice tribute. Stories like this are interesting, how someone goes so many years not knowing she was the inspiration for a WW II icon!

  2. There is a great documentary called by this name and a tribute to the time. Thanks for remembering.

  3. I am sorry to hear of her passing. What she did was awesome and will remain part of history - more than many of us can say. She is leaving a living legacy.

    As a side bar, she was beautiful also, which proves pretty does not mean dumb.

    That was a true beauty inside and out not like todays crazed plastic surgery nyhpos! They leave nothing in their wake but cheap lipstick.

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  5. HOORAH for Rosie! May Geraldine Doyle rest in peace.

    God will have her look after us now that she is an angel.

  6. First, Happy New Year!

    Second -- it actually does kinda look like her. . .

    She's the last of the passing of the Greatest Generation.

    More and more, people couldn't possible conceive of the concept of SACRIFICE. Many of our new cops are egocentric PUNKS. I know. I see them, I try to train them. They are so packed with ESTEEM they think the world revolves around them -- they had that pounded into them by their LIBERAL ignorant teachers and their ignorant parents.

    We should have expected these results. But no, we were too busy deluding ourselves.


  7. Rosie was a symbol then. Our symbols today? Well, there's a move afoot to issue a postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk, the homosexual SF city supervisor who was assassinated in 1978. What did he do to be honored? I can't really get into details on a PG-rated blog. That's America in 2011. If we last until 2111, it'll be a miracle.

  8. I actually thought of u when I heard the news.inspiration eh! HAPPY NEW YEAR MY FRIEND!!..xxoo

  9. She is beautiful, I'm not sure the poster looks exactly like her.

    Right Truth

  10. I am sorry to say I did not know she was from Michigan, we live about an hour and a half from Lansing.

    These ladies had a huge role in winning WWII. Although, quite frankly, the families at home are the backbone of any war effort.

  11. Thought of you AOW when I read the article a few days ago... you and your "We can do it attitude" with Mr. AOW certainly is a great example.

  12. I'm glad you took my sugesstion and ran with it. You needed an avatar, and it works. Warren did a good job.

    My original conception for your avatar was to be the Norman Rockwell version eating a ham sandwich, but replacing the rivet gun with a machine gun and the copy of Mein Kampf under her foot with a Koran.


  13. What a neat post, AOW, thanks, I knew nothing of this lady.

  14. Beamish,
    I remember your original concept for my avatar. It was a great concept!

    I don't know why, exactly, I went with the representation I have now. Maybe I thought that the details of the image you had in mind wouldn't show up well in Blogger and Gravatar.

    Before your concept came along, I was making do with the Virginia state seal. Lame, but all that I could manage by myself.

  15. Ticker,
    you and your "We can do it attitude" with Mr. AOW certainly is a great example

    Well, I am a bit of a drill sergeant as a teacher. Plus, I refused to knuckle under to the nursing home industry, which tried to force us into bankruptcy when, clearly, Mr. AOW could come home.

    Thankfully, Mr. AOW doesn't need as much of a drill sergeant now.

  16. Bloviating Zeppelin said:

    More and more, people couldn't possible conceive of the concept of SACRIFICE.

    Interesting that you should mention "sacrifice." I'll be having a post next week about Ayn Rand's view of sacrifice.

    Many of our new cops are egocentric PUNKS. I know. I see them, I try to train them. They are so packed with ESTEEM they think the world revolves around them -- they had that pounded into them by their LIBERAL ignorant teachers and their ignorant parents.

    That certainly doesn't bode well!

    And the same is going on with all professions, I think.

    What happens to a selfish nation?

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  18. Thank you AOW as I never knew her name or had seen a picture of her.
    "Semper Fi"

  19. Thanks to Rosie! May she rest in peace.

  20. I thought of you when I read of her passing. I'm sorry she never profited from her iconic image.

  21. BTW years ago I got into a heated argument with my father in law once when he said there was no such thing as Rosie the Riveter. Your post brought it all back.

  22. Cube,
    Interesting about that argument with your father-in-law. I wonder if a lot of other people thought the same -- that there was no real Rosie.


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