“We can do it!”
That’s the slogan that appeared alongside fictional icon “Rosie the Riveter” during the famous WWII-era advertising campaign targeted toward American women on the home front.
“Rosie” was just one part of the US propaganda effort to encourage women to take on traditionally male-dominated occupations — especially in the field of war supply production — as mass conscription depleted the workforce.
The message took hold. By 1945, almost one out of four married women worked outside the home, according to History.com. However, once peace was restored, many women found themselves ousted from their wartime jobs.
Here are pictures of some of the real life women who helped make the war effort possible, all taken from 1941 to 1943. These images and captions are all courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Assembly and Repairs Department supervisor Virginia Young (right) lost her husband during the attack on Pearl Harbour. She watches as Ethel Mann (left) operates an electric drill.
Former housewife Lucile Mazurek assembles black-out lamps at Heil and Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
National Youth Administration trainee Mildred Webb operates a cutting machine as part of her eight week apprenticeship.
Former University of Southern California sociology major Eloise J. Ellis (right) checks in with trainee Jo Ann Whittington (left) at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas.
An employee of North American Aviation, Inc., works on the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane.
Two employees of North American Aviation, Inc., assemble a section of a wing for a P-51 fighter plane.
Ex-department store sales clerk Beulah Faith operates a lathe machine at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.
A worker prepares metal parts on a masonite at North American Aviation, Inc. in Inglewood, California.
Eloise J. Ellis supervises cowler Cora Ann Bowen (left) at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Helen Bray quit school to become a mechanic at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sculptor Dorothy Cole converted her basement into a workshop to create parts for blood transfusion bottles.
Mary Louise Stepan worked as a waitress before going to work at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
A Vultee employee worker touches up the U.S. Army Air Forces insignia on the side of the fuselage of a Vengeance dive bomber.
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