How One ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Poster Won Out Over All the Others and Became a Symbol of Female Empowerment

By: | June 5, 2018

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During the war, the poster on the left, painted by J. Howard Miller, was only on display for only two weeks. Norman Rockwell’s, on the other hand, was seen by millions.
Nick Lehr/The Conversation

Sarah Myers, Saint Francis University and G. Kurt Piehler, Florida State University

Seventy-five years ago, Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter appeared on the cover of a May 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Many might have been already aware of the fictional Rosie from the radio. A year earlier, she made her first appearance in a nationally broadcast song. Now she was appearing on newsstands and millions of doorsteps across the country.

Yet today, when people hear “Rosie the Riveter,” Rockwell’s painting isn’t the one that comes to mind.

Instead, it’s J. Howard Miller’s depiction of Rosie – flexing, wearing a red bandana, accompanied by the words “We Can Do It!” – that we associate with the World War II cultural icon.