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Naomi Parker Fraley, Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96

Naomi Parker Fraley, Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96

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By    |   Tuesday, 23 January 2018 08:06 AM

Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter credited with inspiring the image which became popular in the 1940s during World War II, died Saturday at 96.

Fraley, who died in Longview, Washington, had gone unrecognized as the inspiration for the "We Can Do It" image on the popular war poster and feminist touchstone for nearly 70 years because someone else had been given credit, The New York Times reported.

James Kimble, an associate professor of communication and the arts at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, discovered Fraley as the real Rosie the Riveter after years of research and reported his findings in "Rosie’s Secret Identity," a 2016 article in the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs, the Times said.

"She had been robbed of her part of history," Kimble told People magazine. "It's so hurtful to be misidentified like that. It's like the train has left the station and you're standing there and there's nothing you can do because you're 95 and no one listens to your story."

Fraley was the "Rosie" depicted in the wartime industrial poster displayed briefly in Westinghouse Electric Corporation plants in 1943, created by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller. The poster depicted a young woman, clad in a work shirt and polka-dot bandanna, flexing her arm with the slogan "We Can Do It!"

The poster was meant to deter absenteeism and strikes among Westinghouse employees in wartime and never meant for public display, but became a popular feminist symbol in the 1980s and was seen on t-shirts, coffee mugs and other memorabilia, the Times said.

Fraley, whose father Joseph Parker was a mining engineer, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Aug. 26, 1921. After the 1942 Pearl Harbor attack, Fraley, then 20, and her 18-year-old sister, Ada, went to work at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, the Times said.

At the station's machine shop, their duties included drilling, patching airplane wings and, fittingly, riveting. An Acme photographer photographed Fraley with her hair tied in a bandanna for safety, at her lathe.

The Times said Fraley cut out the photo from the newspaper and kept it for years. She would later marry and have a family.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a Michigan woman whose innocent assertion that she was Rosie was long accepted in the media, was ruled out by Kimble's research, the Times said. Doyle died in 2010.

"I just wanted my own identity," Fraley told People magazine before her death. "I didn't want fame or fortune, but I did want my own identity."

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Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter credited with inspiring the image which became popular in the 1940s during World War II, died Saturday at 96.
naomi parker fraley, rosie the riveter, dies
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2018-06-23
Tuesday, 23 January 2018 08:06 AM
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