Rosie the Riveter

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Something for a Labor Day weekend.  Rosie the Riveteer.  Written in 1942 the song celebrated the fact that with some sixteen million American men being called into military service, American women were going to have to pick up the slack if America was to win the battle of production, the decisive battle of World War II.  Women, especially young women, were absolutely critical in this task.  In 1944 1.7 million unmarried men were involved in war production, compared to 4.1 million women.  The war of the factories was won for the US by middle aged married men, many of them World War I veterans, and young women, many of them daughters of the older men they labored beside.  Below is a film, Women on the Warpath, made in 1943 by Ford honoring the women involved in assembling B-24 bombers at the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.



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  1. In Britain, women between 18 and 60 were made liable to “directed labour” under the National Service Act (No 2) 1941. In practice, only single women between 20 and 30 were called up.

    It was only on 23 June 1941, as part of the war against fascism, that the Trades Union Congress withdrew its opposition to women in traditional male occupations and in firms with closed shops (compulsory union membership), even as volunteers. By mid-1943, 80% of married women and 90% of single women were engaged in the labour force.

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