'Rosie the Riveter' Italian?

September 27, 2004

According to one account, an Italian-American aircraft worker, Rose Bonavita, became the inspiration for a 20th-century icon, Rosie the Riveter.

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During WWII, women on the home front took over many factory jobs. Rose Bonavita-Hickey, and partner Jennie Florio, drilled 900 holes and placed 3,300 rivets in an airplane tail end within six hours at the former General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division in North Tarrytown [New York]. Mrs. Hickey was recognized with a personal letter from President Roosevelt, and became afterwards identified as our own "Rosie the Riveter."

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The "WE CAN DO IT!" poster, created in 1943 by J. Howard Miller, encouraged women entering the workforce. 1942's "Rosie the Riveter," a popular homefront song, became a nickname for women in the war workforce. These "Rosies" included Rose Bonavita, who drove a record 3,345 rivets into a torpedo bomber in 1943.

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