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About the Photos
About the Author
On the Shop Floor, 1918
From Chapter 6 of Rosie's Mom

Hutchinson--"Hutch" they called her-- liked to roll up her sleeves and flex her biceps, in the pose of prize fighters on the sports pages. She was a shell turner on the night shift in one of the great munitions factories near Chicago, and she delighted in her newly discovered competence in a man's job. As she worked through the night, her overalls and forearms became splattered with oil. She wore a workman's cap with a long black visor, to cut down the glare from the electric lights. As each huge shell came under her hand, delivered by a man, she grasped it in the jaws of a crane that hoisted it up into position on her lathe. Wrestling the shell into place, she fixed it in the grip of the machine, then shifted a gear to make the lathe spin. Next she set in motion the cutting tool that slowly moved along the spinning shell, cleaning and shaping it. As the cutting tool trimmed off long spirals of thin steel, she measured the shell with large calipers, until shape and size were perfect.

Pressing out channel iron at the Detroit Steel Products Company. Women's Bureau photograph, courtesy of the National Archives at College Park (RG 86G-7A-32).