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Saying Goodbye to a Feminist Icon – Rest In Peace, Rosie the Riveter

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Rosie the Riveter, one of the most identifiable propaganda posters in the history of the United States, an iconic symbol of female power, and one of, if not the, most prominent symbols of feminism to come out of WWII. For a long time the identity of the woman in the poster was a mystery, and the history of the true Rosie muse is an interesting one. 



At the ages of 89 and 87, Naomi Parker Fraley and her sister Ada Wyn Parker Loy fought their way to attend the Gathering of the Rosies, and when they arrived they were shocked to see an image of Naomi featured at the event, and even more astonished to find it incorrectly captioned with the name Geraldine Hoff Doyle.  This began the fight make the world recognize the woman in the photo by her rightful name.



For a long time, Geraldine Doyle was considered to be the woman in the photo and the inspiration for the Rosie the Riveter poster, but after extensive research it was discovered by  Professor James Kimble, from Seton Hall University after he spent 6 years searching for the original copy that had Naomi’s name in the caption, stating, “Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating”


James Kimble set about to find Naomi, and when he finally did she had known that her photo was credited to the wrong woman for the past 4 years, and she was so excited for someone to finally believe her story. The first time she saw her image published in a newspaper, she made a clipping which she then kept for the next 70 years. Her main concern was not so much getting recognition for the Rosie poster, but for the initial image of her working hard at her factory job. She wasn’t just fighting for her right to be recognized, she was fighting for all the women who worked alongside her, saying,  “It was all of us. There were many of us that went to the factories and worked and helped out with the effort – not just me. We all did it. We all deserve the same recognition.”



The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter was created by Pittsburgh artist J Howard Miller, and while there remains no definitive proof that the image of Naomi Parker, wearing her iconic head scarf and outfit, leaning over a lathe while working at her factory, really was the image that inspired Miller, it was published by a number of magazines in 1943 including in Miller’s hometown. With her iconic red polkadot scarf,


When asked what advice she had for all the women who have been inspired by her story, Fraley said she wants them to listen to her story, learn the lessons. This is an important time for women.


Naomi Parker Fraley, the inspiration of one of the most recognizable feminist icons, died on Saturday January 20th at the age of 96. She leaves behind her son, Joseph Blankenship,  from her first marriage, and four stepsons and two stepdaughters from her marriage to Charles Fraley


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Lauren is currently majoring in Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and minoring in Business in the Leeds School of Business, Leadership in the LSM Program, and Women and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Colorado Boulder. On campus Lauren currently holds the position of Her Campus CU Boulder's Chapter President and Campus Correspondent. She also acts as an Aerie Real on campus ambassador, held the position of  Victoria's Secret PINK Campus Rep for CU for the previous two years, and acts as the social media chairman and event coordinator for the PSICHI Psychology Honors Club within CU's Psychology department.  Outside of school Lauren founded and owns Empyreal Photography. When she's not looking through a camera lens or somewhere drinking chai, you can probably find her in a yoga class, petting a dog, or daydreaming about New York City.