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Doyle was working at a Michigan metal factory in 1941 when a United Press International
photographer snapped this photo of the slender 17-year-old laboring in a polka-dot
Geraldine Doyle » Amazon.com
Artist J. Howard Miller was commissioned by the Westinghouse Corporation in 1942 to
create morale-boosting posters for its factories. Miller was so smitten with the photo
of Doyle, he drew upon it when producing the “We Can Do It!” poster:
“We Can Do It!” Poster » Wallstreetjournal.com
song “Rosie the Riveter,” about the new women’s workforce. Shortly thereafter,
a Norman Rockwell illustration of a red-headed riveter with the name Rosie painted
on her lunch pail graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post:
Rosie the Riveter illustration » Huffingtonpost.com
the woman in the “We Can Do It Posters!” with the hard-working Rosie depicted in Rockwell’s
Because the “We Can Do It!” poster was an internal Westinghouse Corporation project,
the poster did not become a pop culture icon until her image was revived by advocates
of women’s equality in the workplace during the 1980s.
For decades Doyle was unaware she was the inspiration behind the “We Can Do It!” poster
— she quit working at the factory one week after the photo was taken, because she
feared she may permanently damage her hands on the equipment. It wasn’t until 1982,
when she came across the original photograph in a 1940s issue of Modern Maturity magazine,
that Doyle realized she was the woman behind the classic image.
Doyle then began making appearances as Rosie the Riveter, signing autographs until
her arthritis made it too painful for her to write.
“You’re not supposed to have too much pride, but I can’t help have some in that poster,”
Mrs. Doyle told the Lansing State Journal in 2002. “It’s just sad I didn’t know it
was me sooner.”