Naomi Parker Fraley, the woman portrayed in the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster, has passed away. She was 96.
Fraley’s image rose to fame during World War II. During the war, she worked at California’s Alameda Naval Station as a factory worker. During her time there, a photographer snapped her picture. Artist J Howard Miller later converted the picture into the famous poster.
“Rosie the Riveter” depicts a woman wearing a blue shirt and red polka-dot bandanna. She’s flexing her bicep, and the image has a caption of “We Can Do It!” At first, the poster only appeared in electric plants. Decades later, it became a symbol of female power and feminism.
Originally, there was a little confusion regarding the woman featured as Rosie. Another woman, Geraldine Doyle, claimed the image as her own and became the accepted face behind Rosie. However, a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey felt there were some holes in her story.
Shortly after Doyle’s death in 2010, the professor began searching for the true source of the poster. It took him six years, but eventually, he ran across a copy of the original photograph used to create the poster that had a caption.
“Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating,” the caption read. 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.”
But, the most important clue to the woman’s identity was the date and location printed on the photo – “24 March 1942 – Alameda, California.” Since Doyle lived and worked in Michigan, this was all the proof needed to debunk the myth of her being the real Rosie the Riveter.
Surprisingly, Fraley never knew she was the person in the famous poster until the professor showed up on her doorsteps in 2016. However, she immediately recognized her picture and confirmed that she was the woman.
Fraley was surrounded by her family when she passed away.