Elizabeth Collier

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Rosies of Indiana
Elizabeth Collier

During WWII thousands of men around the country left their homes, families and entire lives to defend this great nation overseas in various parts of the world. Over 300,000 men and women from Indiana served our country during WWII, from the battlefield to the factories. However, despite the battle overseas, there was another battle at work here at home, with the women who I like to call Rosies. The WWII women workers in the United States accomplished an amazing task never done before in U.S. manufacturing history. Women, young and old, daughters and mothers, aunts and sisters from the Hoosier State helped to contribute major resources and machinery for our country during the greatest war ever seen, World War II.

Many factories in Indiana were well known for their mass producing of certain supplies, and even set world breaking records. The DuPont Company in Fontanet, Indiana set a world record for the world’s largest gun powder producer. Several television, and RCA factories were turned overnight into war production plants, including the RCA factory in Bloomington, in which produced the first color television in the nation. Steel plants in Gary, Indiana were some of the major producers of machinery during the war, including the Calumet region bordering Chicago. They all contributed an enormous amount to help win the war for the Allies, causing one third of all payrolls in Indiana going to the factory jobs.

As well as contributing supplies to our forces during the war, these courageous women workers also contributed a great will and determination in furthering rights for the women of America’s future. Before WWII women had extremely limited opportunities in the workforce and beyond. Many women could only hold positions in teaching, nursing, or secretary type fields, leaving opportunities for economic and social advancement almost impossible. Moving hundreds of thousands of women into the factories, businesses, and offices around the country did more than just fill unfilled positions during wartime. It forever reshaped the way women feel and think about their possibilities as a United States citizen and as a person. They revealed a spark of independence from these war time occupations, and helped to shape the events of the early 1960s and 1970s which would later become what we now know as the Women’s Liberation Movement.

These six photographs show women workers to garden tenders at the RCA factory plant in Bloomington, Indiana. These photographs show very enthusiastic Rosies sitting down, standing up and kneeling on the floor to complete many different tasks. They also show the amount of training and dedication these tasks needed, with very large and complicated machines and tools shown. From the large stacks of boxes to the rows of production lines, each woman from the war plants of Indiana defiantly made their mark in the effort to help win the greatest war ever seen. These women used their sense of Hoosier pride and pride to their country to help bring our men back, and unknowingly further the women’s rights movement.