- Historic Sites
Rosie The Riveter Remembers
For millions of women, consciousness raising didn’t start in the 1960s. It started when they helped win World War II.
February/March 1984 | Volume 35, Issue 2
I relate so much with women who are trying to get into nontraditional jobs today, because during the war we had those jobs out of necessity, and then after the war they were no longer there. Women have actually had nontraditional jobs since the first wagon train went across the country. When they arrived at the place where they wanted to settle, they helped cut the logs, they helped put them together, they helped put the mud between the log cabins, and they made a home and had their babies inside. And everytime a war comes along, women take up nontraditional work again. During the Civil War they worked in factories, they helped make musket balls, they made clothing for the troops, and they kept the home fires burning the way they always have. World War I came along and they did the same thing. After the war was over, they went back home. World War II, it was exactly the same thing, but the women were different in World War II: they didn’t want to go back home, and many of them haven’t. And if they did go back home, they never forgot, and they told their daughters, “You don’t have to be just a homemaker. You can be anything you want to be.” And so we’ve got this new generation of women.