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These real-life Rosie the Riveters changed the face of labor
Vintage photos from the Library of Congress capture a time when the country ran on womanpower
 

When America entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it did so fully, committing all of its assets. As the men stepped into battle across Europe and in the Pacific theater, women entered the workforce, occupying the roles of their husbands, brothers, and sons.

Nearly 350,000 women volunteered to serve in the army both at home and abroad. Those housewives and students were suddenly in uniform, driving trucks, repairing airplanes, fixing engines, rigging parachutes, and manning aircrafts that acted as flying targets during training. It was a whole new world and they rose to the challenge, even though their efforts would be largely ignored, their jobs void once the men returned home from war.

In honor of these hardworking Americans, here is a selection of beautifully vivid photos of a time when the country ran on womanpower.

A woman hand drills a "Vengeance" dive bomber at Vultee-Nashville, Tennessee. | February 1943 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Engine installation at Douglas Aircraft Company plant. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


A woman works at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California, where the B-17F heavy bomber, the A-20 assault bomber, and the C-47 heavy transport plane, among others, were made. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Women install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company in California. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Irma Lee McElroy paints the American insignia on an airplane wing at the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas. | August 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Working in the assembly and repair department of the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. | August 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


A woman rivets an A-20 bomber. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


A woman works over the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane in Inglewood, California. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Answering the nation's call, Virginia Davis made arrangements for the care of her two children during the day and joined her husband at work in the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. Both were employed under civil service in the assembly and repair department. Mrs. Davis' training enabled her to take the place of her husband, should he be drafted. | August 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


A female aircraft worker at Vega Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California. | June 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Before coming to work at the Naval air base in Texas, Lorena Craig was a department store employee. Here she is a cowler. | August 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)


Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American Aviation, Inc.'s Inglewood, California, plant. | October 1942 | (CC BY: Library of Congress)

 
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