The Real Rosie the Riveter
  Rose Monroe  

The popular image of a strong, competent woman in coveralls and bandanna was propaganda at its best because it had a ring of truth for millions of Americans. So, it wasn't long before the image gained the face of a real woman.

Actually, Rosie began as a song. In 1942, Kay Kyser recorded "Rosie the Riveter" after the government began recruiting women workers for the defense factories. A woman factory worker on Long Island named Rosalind Walker inspired the songwriters Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. In the song, Rosie was working overtime on the production line. "She's making history / Working for Victory."

About that same time, posters showing women in the workforce began appearing. Norman Rockwell did a version for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. The "We Can Do It!" poster was actually created by J. Walter Miller for the Westinghouse company recruiting effort. These poster images were of anonymous women.

The time was ripe to give Rosie a real face. In 1942, the actor Walter Pidgeon was making a war bond promotional film at the giant Ford Motor Company aircraft assembly plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Someone said, "Hey, we've got our own Rosie the Riveter," and Pidgeon was introduced to Rose Will Monroe. Soon, this Rose was starring as herself in government films promoting the war effort.

Rose Monroe was part of the migration of men and women from rural areas to the industrial centers during the war. She was born in Kentucky in 1922 and moved to Michigan after her husband died. She went to work riveting planes together to support her family.

After the war, Rose Monroe stayed in the workforce. Eventually she started her own beauty supply business and custom home construction firm in Indiana. She passed away in 1997.

Here are the lyrics to the "Rosie the Riveter" song:

Rosie the Riveter

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine,
She's a part of the assembly line.
She's making history,
Working for victory,
Rosie --rrrrrrrrr -- the Riveter.

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage,
Sitting up there on the fuselage.
That little girl will do more than a male will do.
Rosie --rrrrrrrrr -- the Riveter.

Rosie's got a boyfriend, Charlie.
Charlie, he's a Marine.
Rosie is protecting Charlie,
Working overtime on the riveting machine
Rosie --rrrrrrrrr -- the Riveter.

When they gave her a production "E",
She was as proud as she could be,
There's something true about,
Red, white, and blue about,
Rosie --rrrrrrrrr -- the Riveter."