The untold story of the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster

The image we associate with female empowerment during World War II was only displayed for two weeks at the time–and few Americans ever even saw it. Why is it so popular today?

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.

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