We know the image all too well, the the photo that represented solidarity during the second world war that went onto become the symbol of female empowerment. We’re talking about the world famous “Rosie the Riveter” poster by Howard Miller. Sadly, the New York Times has reported that the woman who inspired the iconic poster, Naomi Parker Fraley has passed away at the age of 96.
The tragedy occurred on Saturday in Longview, Washington. It was reported to The Times by Fraley’s daughter-in-law, Marnie Blankenship.
When it came down to Rosie the Riveter, Fraley was only recently acknowledged as the woman the poster was based off of. It was believed for many years that Howard Miller’s famous “We Can Do It!” poster was based off a photograph taken by a female worker in 1942. For decades Michigan local, Geraldine Hoff Doyle was credited as being the inspiration behind the poster. Doyle backed up the claims and stated that she used to wear clothing likewise to the woman in the poster. The media ate up the discovery and even covered Geraldine Doyle’s life.
In 2016 Geraldine’s claims were debunked by James Kimble, a professor at Seton Hall University. He covered the story in a Rhetoric & Public Affairs article titled “Rosie’s Secret Identity.” In the article he came to the conclusion that Fraley was the real Rosie.
It was correction that Fraley had long been hoping for. She first suspected it was her in the poster back in 2011. She attended a reunion for female war workers with her sister in Richmond, California and upon seeing the poster, she felt certain it was her.
Fraley and her sister Ada Wyn were part of the giant flow of female workers that started during World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two sisters found themselves working working on a naval base in Alameda, California.
In one of her final interviews with People Magazine, Naomi Parker Fraley uttered these words, “The women of this country these days need some icons. If they think I’m one, I’m happy.”