The nation was desperate to hire women for non-traditional jobs.
While men and women were fighting in far off places during World War II, there was also a battle going on within the country to make sure that all those fighting overseas and protecting the borders had what they needed to do the job.
The public banded together like never before or since to bring in scrap materials and do without many basic essentials we all take for granted today. The war also changed the social structure of the country as well. Those changes are still being felt today.
Before 1940 women in the workplace, particularly in certain kinds of jobs, were not many in number. Most held jobs in the clerical and medical fields if they worked at all. It was felt by most that a woman's place was in the home, not taking a job away from men who may need it.
The war changed all that because with eight million people in uniform in a country of 140 million people, essential jobs in the homeland needed to be filled. Many of these jobs included working in factories and shipyards, building the weapons of war, equipment and supply materials to the effort.
Enter Rosie the Riveter.
There is an iconic poster of Rosie. Most people have seen this attractive rendering of a young woman flexing her muscles with the big letters at the top that say "We Can Do It!" For the years immediately following the war that image languished a little, but the move toward feminism brought it to the forefront again in the 1960s.
There were a couple of women that were the inspiration for the image, but the idea of females taking men's jobs to win the war was applied to women working everywhere during the conflict. And a song called by the same name became popular during the middle of the war, supporting that image of the tough, but feminine woman working on the assembly lines of America.
In direct contribution to weapons and weapons systems the Rosie the Riveters of the 1940s built 297,000 airplanes, 102,000 tanks, 372,000 artillery pieces, and 88,000 warships. They also made 44 billion rounds of small arms ammunition and 47 million tons of artillery shells. Their contribution just in these direct fields was immense and that doesn't even take into account how many women worked in the food, clothing and ancillary equipment areas of production.
Today, each year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the country honors those that were in the military and fought in the wars. In the last 70 years much of the emphasis of these ceremonies have been on World War II veterans, who were by far the largest number of vets that were around during that time.
But somewhat forgotten in the years after the war, and up until the 1990s, were these warriors who fought the clock on the home front, churning out the things that made victory possible. The "Greatest Generation" has often been lauded for saving the world from tyranny by fighting the war, but much of that generation did it by building and making things, not by having to destroy them.
In 1998 an organization was founded to honor Rosie the Riveters everywhere and to tell their stories to the world. The American Rosie the Riveter Association was put together by Francis Tunnell Carter to honor people who worked on the home front during World War II. Since then the organization has grown considerably, with chapters in dozens of places around the country and conventions going on regularly. This non-profit organization has over 4,000 members.
The organization is trying to locate women who worked on the home front during World War II. The idea is not only to locate women in the Carbon and Emery County area who were part of this massive effort, but to get their stories and preserve the history of this segment of the war effort.
The primary members of the organization include any woman who was employed in an industry or agency that was directly related to the war effort or who was employed in a capacity usually held by a man, thus releasing a man for military duty. This includes self-employment, such as farming. Those that were Volunteer Rosies are also eligible. Any woman who participated on a sustained basis in one or more volunteer activities related to the war effort (examples: collecting critical materials, growing a Victory Garden, working at a USO) also qualify.
Because most of the people who were involved in this effort during the war are now in their 80s and 90s, and many have passed away, the organization also accepts the ancestors of the Rosies as part of the organization as well. Any female who is the direct descendant of a Rosie or a Volunteer Rosie is eligible. They are called Rosebuds. Men can also be admitted to the organization if they are the direct descendant or spouse of a Rosie, a Volunteer Rosie, or a Rosebud.
"We are always looking for new members," said Mabel Myrick, the Vice President for membership for the organization in a short phone interview on Wednesday morning. "We ask many of them to do short essays on what they did during the war or what their relatives did."
Myrick says the organization continues to grow and they are always looking for information and new stories about people who worked on the homefront.
For information about the organization readers can go to the organizations website at www.rosietheriveter.net, by calling a toll free number at 1-888-557-6743 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.