Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rosie & Westinghouse

Look real close at the poster of Rosie and you'll see a button on her lapel. It's actually the Westinghouse company pin! 

What the world knows as the iconic Rosie the Riveter image was in fact one of a series of posters designed by 24-year-old artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Co. for just two weeks. Fewer than 1,800 copies were printed, and the image — titled “We Can Do It!” — was mostly forgotten after its brief run in 1943, only to be rediscovered years later. In fact, the slogan was a regular Westinghouse saying. Every meeting before and after for awhile people would repeat the refrain as a production rallying cry. 
Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter

The name Rosie the Riveter, however, first showed up the year before in a song by American composers Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. Norman Rockwell created his own iconic image of the female factory worker for the Memorial Day 1943 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell’s painting is depicting “a somewhat more zaftig Rosie, modeled by a Vermont telephone operator, munching on a sandwich, rivet gun in her lap, foot squarely on a copy of Mein Kampf.” 

Westinghouse’s Rosie, however, was never meant to recruit women to the workforce during WW2.  "She’s not calling women to the factories — she’s telling the people who are already there to stop looking at posters, work harder and follow orders.” Another, encouraging shorter bathroom breaks saying, was as pointed as possible: “Killing time is killing men.”

The specifics of Rosie’s rediscovery are not altogether clear, though  the original Westinghouse image was reprinted in a 1982 Washington Post article and seems to have taken off from there.

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