PETROLETTES IN HISTORY: Real Rosie Riveters

PETROLETTES IN HISTORY: Real Rosie Riveters

HEADER PHOTO  |  ALFRED T. PALMER

Between 1939 and 1944, the US Government's Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWA) made approximately 1,600 colour photographs detailing various aspects of American life, to "introduce America to Americans". In addition to the 175,000 better known black-and-white images made in the same period, they formed an extensive pictorial record, and allow a riveting (pun intended) vantage point into a time and place that a lot of us weren't privy to the first time around - the Depression and early years of World War II.

Widespread male enlistment in the war effort left gaping holes in the industrial labor force, with women taking up work in positions previously closed to them. The aviation industry saw the greatest increase in female workers, who made up only 1 percent of the total industry workforce in pre-war years, to 310,000 workers or 65 percent in 1943.

We've compiled some images from the FSA/OWA Photography Program below, and the collection is available to view here.

 A man and woman riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 aircraft at the plant of North American Aviation (1942). Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

A man and woman riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 aircraft at the plant of North American Aviation (1942). Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Precise engine installation duties at Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

Precise engine installation duties at Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

Working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Eloise J. Ellis at Naval Airbase Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

Eloise J. Ellis at Naval Airbase Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

 A woman operating a turret lathe (1942). Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

A woman operating a turret lathe (1942). Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

 Mrs Irma Lee McElroy painting the American insignia on airplane wings at Naval Airbase, Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

Mrs Irma Lee McElroy painting the American insignia on airplane wings at Naval Airbase, Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

 Assembling part of the cowling for a B-25 bomber at North American [Aviation, Inc.] in Inglewood, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

Assembling part of the cowling for a B-25 bomber at North American [Aviation, Inc.] in Inglewood, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Women become skilled shop technicians after careful training in the school at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

Women become skilled shop technicians after careful training in the school at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, California. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Capping and inspecting tubing for the "Vengeance" A-31 dive bomber at Vultee plant, Nashville, Tennessee. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

Capping and inspecting tubing for the "Vengeance" A-31 dive bomber at Vultee plant, Nashville, Tennessee. Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer

 Checking electrical assemblies at Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, California. Photographer: David Bransby

Checking electrical assemblies at Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, California. Photographer: David Bransby

 NYA employees learning to work a cutting machine at Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

NYA employees learning to work a cutting machine at Corpus Christi, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

 At Consolidated Aircraft Corp, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

At Consolidated Aircraft Corp, Texas. Photographer: Howard R. Hollem

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