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Real-Life Rosie the Riveters

In "'Rosie the Riveter:' Real Women Workers in World War II," Library of Congress women's studies specialist Sheridan Harvey explores the evolution of "Rosie the Riveter" and discusses the lives of real women workers during World War II.

'Rosie,' color lithograph after a painting Gordon Parks, photographer. 'Portrait of Langston Hughes,' 1943

Says Harvey of Norman Rockwell's May 29, 1943, cover for the Saturday Evening Post: "Two weeks after his cover appeared on newsstands, the press picked up the story of a woman named Rose Hickey. She and her partner drove a record number of rivets into the wing of a TBM Avenger at a Tarrytown, New York, plant. Other women named Rose gained media attention before the end of the war. Rose Monroe, a riveter in Michigan, made a film about selling war bonds and then a commercial movie called Rosie the Riveter?.

"Sybil Lewis, an African-American riveter for Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles, gives this description of riveting:

"'The women worked in pairs. I was the riveter and this big, strong, white girl from a cotton farm in Arkansas worked as the bucker. The riveter used a gun to shoot rivets through the metal and fasten it together. The bucker used a bucking bar on the other side of the metal to smooth out the rivets. Bucking was harder than shooting rivets; it required more muscle. Riveting required more skill.'"

You can see and hear Harvey give her fascinating presentation or read a transcript. Harvey also supplies an extensive list of resources online for the study of women's history. One of the best of these is the recently released online version of "American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States."

Harvey's discussion is from "Journeys and Crossings," Webcasts from Library of Congress staff with expertise on various subjects. Other "Journeys and Crossings" focus on Langston Hughes, Pearl Harbor and the new and exciting field of digital reference services.

A. Norman Rockwell, artist. "Rosie," color lithograph after a painting. Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1943, cover (AP2.S2). General Collections. Reproduction information: LC-USZC4-5602. ? 1943 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing Co., Indianapolis. All rights reserved.

B. Gordon Parks, photographer. "Portrait of Langston Hughes," 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USW3-033841-C DLC (b&w film neg.); Call No.: LC-USW3- 033841-C

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