Geraldine Doyle

Editorial
  • "R.I.P Great grandmother. its coming up to yours and Grandpa..."
    - kylee zimmerman
  • "Rest in Peace Geraldine/Rosie! Many ladies at our annual..."
    - Rick Rea
  • "A great inspiration to so many. Her historic image and what..."
    - Lance Rhines
  • "Signed: Doris B. Hendrian, second cousin and audrey..."
  • " Dr. Doyle was my dentist for 24 years. Mrs. Doyle would..."
    - Mary Oberlin Aldrich

Geraldine Doyle

aided war effort

LANSING, Mich.  When a photographer snapped Geraldine Hoff Doyle's picture in an Ann Arbor factory during World War II, the 17-year-old had no idea she would inspire others to contribute to the country's war effort.

Ms. Doyle said it took more than 40 years for her to learn that her image from that photo was placed on the illustrated "We Can Do It!" poster urging women to take on jobs traditionally held by the men fighting battles in Europe and the Pacific.

Ms. Doyle died Sunday in Lansing at age 86. A memorial service is set for Jan. 8.

"She was definitely one of the Rosies," said Sandy Soifer, executive director of the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame, in referring to the fictional "Rosie the Riveter." That was the name given to women working in plants during WWII.

The image of the headscarf-wearing woman with the flexed bicep beneath a rolled-up shirt sleeve helped prompt scores of daughters, sisters and mothers to trade in the tools of housework for those of manufacturing and take jobs in plants across Michigan and the country.

"It's our belief that she is the model for the drawing that is most commonly used in the posters and on the products," added Soifer.

Ms. Doyle told the Lansing State Journal in 2002 that she didn't realize the illustrated face on the poster commissioned by the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee was her own until 1984, when she saw a reproduction of it in a magazine.

The forgotten photo was taken in 1942 at a metal pressing plant about 33 miles southwest of Detroit.

"There were other Rosies. She said she was the model for that poster," said Gladys Beckwith, former director of the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame.

The poster was "symbolic of an active woman who was taking an active part in the war effort, and it was empowering for a woman to see that," Beckwith said.

"Rosie the Riveter" was the title of a popular 1940s song. Like the woman in the "We Can Do It!" poster, a woman holding a rivet gun in a Norman Rockwell painting was called "Rosie the Riveter."


Published in The Record on Dec. 31, 2010
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