Naomi Parker Franley who was the inspiration for the Rosie the Riveter poster which was one of Americas most iconic images and an enduring symbol of feminists died on Saturday aged 96.
The “We Can Do It” poster was by Pittsburgh artist J Howard Miller and was based on a photograph of a woman standing at a lathe and was published by many magazines but was never captioned. Millers poster was only displayed in house at Westinghouse electric plants only becoming iconic years later.
Geraldine Doyle who was a metal presser at a Michigan industrial plant thought she was the woman in the original photograph and over time her claim to being the woman in the photograph became widely accepted.
That was until James Kimble an associate professor of communication at Seton Hall University in New Jersey started to research the poster. Obviously Mr Kimble was very tenacious as he searched for six years for a version of the photograph with a caption.
Finally he found another image of Parker Franley and via a reverse image search he managed to trace it to a vintage newspaper with a caption which said. “Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating”. “The women wore safety clothes instead of feminine frills and the girls don’t mind- they’re doing their part”. “Glamour is secondary these days”.
Naomi went to work at the Naval Air Station in Alameda and it was there in the workshop that the photograph was taken for the Acme photo agency.
Parker Franley had seen the famous poster and did think it looked like herself but didn’t connect it with the photograph of her taken earlier at her lathe.
Eventually Miller managed to trace Naomi and informed her that her earlier photograph was the inspiration for the famous Rosie the Riveter poster.
Well done Naomi, well done Rosie the Riveter, both icons.