Way Back When … 1942
“Rosie the Riveter” was the star of a campaign that began in 1942 and was designed to recruit women to work in defense industries during World War II. According to History.com, Rosie “became perhaps the most iconic image of working women. American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the war, as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labor force. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home.” Over the years the term “Rosie the Riveter” has been used as a generic term for all of the working women of WWII.
Gretchen Caulfield, Connecticut State Director of the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA), will come to the Fairfield Museum (370 Beach Road) on Wednesday, May 15 at 12:30 p.m. for a “History Bites Lunchtime Lecture” to discuss the many ways that women in Fairfield and throughout the state contributed to the war effort during World War II. From factory jobs to volunteer work, Connecticut women stepped up to do their part. Some of these unique stories from interviews will be highlighted.
The ARRA was founded Dec. 7, 1998 to honor the working women of World War II, to recognize and preserve their history and legacy, to promote cooperation and fellowship among such members and their descendants, and to further the advancement of patriotic ideals, excellence in the workplace, and loyalty to the United States of America.
A “Rosie” can be any woman who did what was considered men’s work, while millions of men were serving in the military overseas. This work includes such things as working at a factory, a shipyard, an aircraft assembly plant, a parachute factory, a munitions plant, or a farm, lumber mill, or railroad. A woman may have been a driver, a secretary in a defense agency, a nurse, a pilot, a plane spotter or a USO or Canteen volunteer.
Most of these “Rosies” had never worked outside the home before, and many returned to the home once the war ended and the men returned from overseas. In taking these non-traditional jobs, these women were instrumental in changing the perception of women for future generations.
The Connecticut chapter works with “Rosies” and families of “Rosies” to preserve their stories for the ARRA national archives and book series. The presentation will include an update about what the Connecticut chapter is currently doing in our state to honor our Rosies.
The lecture is free for Fairfield Museum members and a suggested $5 donation applies to non-members. Attendees should bring a bagged lunch. Beverages and dessert will be provided. More information at Fairfieldhistory.org.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10am-4pm. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.