Rosie the Riveter in Long Beach
by Gerrie Schipske
During World War II, an unprecedented number of women took jobs at aircraft plants, shipyards, munitions factories, and other concerns across the nation to produce material essential to winning the war. Affectionately and collectively called “Rosie the Riveter” after a popular 1943 song, thousands of these women came to the U.S. Army–financed Douglas Aircraft Plant in Long Beach, the largest wartime plane manufacturer, to help produce an astonishing number of the aircraft used in the war. They riveted, welded, assembled, and installed, doing man-sized jobs, making attack bombers, other war birds, and cargo transports. They trained at Long Beach City Schools and worked 8- and 10-hour shifts in a windowless, bomb-proof plant. Their children attended Long Beach Day Nursery, and their households ran on rations and victory gardens. When the men came home after the war ended, most of these resilient women lost their jobs.
Long Beach city councilwoman and author Gerrie Schipske has taught in the Women’s Studies Department of California State University, Long Beach. Many rare images in this evocative look at an extraordinary group of American women came from her research to establish Rosie the Riveter Park in 2006 on an acre beside the former Douglas Aircraft Plant in Long Beach.