Detroit Free Press, ”Geraldine Doyle, inspiration for ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ dies

LANSING — A memorial service will be held Jan. 8 for Geraldine Doyle, who said her photo was the inspiration for a popular poster lauding the efforts of working women during World War II.

Ms. Doyle died Sunday in Lansing. She was 86.

A war production committee used Ms. Doyle’s likeness from a photo taken when she was a 17-year-old operating a metal-stamping machine at American Broach & Machine Co. in Ann Arbor. The head-scarf-wearing woman flexing her bicep in the “We Can Do It!” poster encouraged women to enter the workforce.

Another “Rosie” was Rose Will Monroe, who starred in a promotional film for War Bonds. She died in 1997 in Clarksville, Ind., The New York Times reported:

Mr. Pidgeon had gone to the Willow Run Aircraft Factory to appear in the promotional film and found out that there was a woman named Rose who was a riveter, Mrs. Jarvis said. The song ”Rosie the Riveter” by Kay Kyser, inspired by a Long Island woman named Rosalind P. Walter, was already a hit. And the poster, with the title ”We Can Do It” above a painting of a muscle-flexing woman in a bandanna and overalls, was becoming a worldwide symbol of women in the defense industry in World War II. A real Rosie the Riveter, Mrs. Jarvis said, proved too good for the film’s producers to resist.

To hear the Allen Miller Orchestra performing the song, “Rosie the Riveter,” go here. (Couldn’t find the Kay Kyser version online in public domain. Is it this one?) The sheet music is available here from the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, Calif. 

The Richmond Shipyards produced more merchant ships in WWII than any other shipyard. Richmond’s government has a different, more progressive attitude toward industry and national defense these days. We can’t do it!

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