Ford Motor Company unveiled a historic collection of World War II-era memorabilia related to Rosie the Riveter, the former Ford employee and pioneer for women in the workforce, in 2004.
Ford and the U.S. National Parks collected more than 7,500 stories and 150 artifacts over several months, some of which were displayed as part of the collection.
A group of surviving “Rosies” – the nickname given to women who joined the workforce during the war – gathered in Washington, D.C. for the unveiling. They were joined by actress Sissy Spacek, who was devoted to portraying strong and empowered women in her films.
All of the artifacts were permanently housed at a Rosie the Riveter/Home Front National Historical Park – then a new national park to built inside a former Ford plant in Richmond, California. Like other Ford plants in the 1940s, the Richmond facility had been converted to wartime production, making tanks for the war effort.
In addition to the Rosie collection, Ford in 2004 was also working with the U.S. Congress to pass a resolution in honor of Rosie the Riveter to celebrate the contributions of women who went to work to support the nation during the war.
Rose “Rosie” Will Monroe joined Ford in 1942, working at the company’s Willow Run plant building B-24 military planes during World War II. She later starred as herself in a film promoting the war effort. Monroe eventually became the inspiration for the well-known “We Can Do It!” campaign, which featured the image of an overall- and bandanna-wearing female factory worker flexing her muscle.
About 6 million women joined the American labor force during the war, thousands of which were employed at Ford. Many of the women remained in the workforce after World War II.
March 21 is recognized as National Rosie the Riveter Day.