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Rosie's Mom:
Forgotten Women Workers of the First World War

In 1917, a full generation before Rosie the Riveter rolled up her sleeves and adorned the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, American women entered the workshops of the First World War. Trading their ankle-length skirts for coarse bloomers or overalls, they built fabric-covered biplanes, hauled scrap metal, filled hand grenades with powder, made gas masks, processed meat to send to the troops, and helped keep the freight trains running. By filling men’s places, at less than men’s wages, they helped win the war. And then they were forgotten. During the Second World War, "Rosie the Riveter" posters, magazine articles, songs, movies, and stage shows would celebrate the accomplishments and encourage the efforts of women ordnance workers. Those images–-images of women doing difficult and remarkable things during World War II–-remain in our collective memory. But Rosie was not the first, and the World War II images are not the first to record women’s industrial war work. This web site, and the book upon which it is based, tell the story of Rosie’s Mom.

Carrie Brown, Ph.D.