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Stunning Vintage Photos Of Wartime Women At Work

By Michelle Bird on September 2nd 2014


A woman is trained to work on an engine installation at the Douglas Aircraft Company, 1942.

While men traded their regular clothes for soldier uniforms during World War II, women traded the cooking utensils for power tools and took on a completely different position in society. The traditional role of women was to be a housewife in those times, a hectic and time consuming job at that, but when WWII came about and men were off fighting overseas, women held the fort down in the US; women were what kept America strong in those times.

[REWIND: Rare Color Photographs Of The First World War]

The most crucial manufacturing jobs at factories and plants were done by women – jobs that would provide aid in war support, from building B-24 bombers, producing munition to supplies.

Rosie the Riveter might just be a cultural icon, but the real Rosie is seen in all these vintage photos of strong women who replaced men during these pivotal times of war.


Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy painting the American insignia on airplane wings. Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas in August, 1942


A “Rosie” working on a A-31 Vengeance bomber, Nashville, TN 1943.


Women working on a bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, CA 1942.


A woman preparing metal parts to go through a multi-ton hydropess. North American Aviation, Inc. 1942.


Drilling a wing bulkhead for a transport plane, Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Texas 1942.


A woman finishing a bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, 1942.


A woman working as a shop technician at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, 1942.


Assembling a section of leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, North American Aviation, Inc. in Inglewood, California, 1942.


A woman working on self-sealing gas tanks at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Ohio, 1941.

Mrs. Virginia Davis being trained to take over her husband's work, Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, TX, 1942.

Mrs. Virginia Davis being trained to take over her husband’s work, Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, TX, 1942.

CREDIT: Images, Courtesy of Library of Congress

[via] Business News Daily

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Michelle Bird is a Southern California based freelance photographer and writer, with a strong focus on music, editorial and portrait photography. She is the founder and creative force behind the music+culture online blog Black Vinyl Magazine, and can often be found in the photo-pit shooting the latest concerts in town. She has a strong passion for art, exploring, vintage finds and most of all animals. Connect with her through Email,
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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Awesome images

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  2. Clare Havill

    Great images.

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  3. Peter Nord

    What does the difference in the film holder tell you?

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  4. Jason Switzer

    I LOVE seeing photos like these. It’s as close to a time machine as we’re going to get. Also, not to sound like a chauvinist a-hole, but man, has makeup come a long way for women. These ladies look like they’re going au natural.

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  5. Wendell Fernandes

    Perhaps what the future looks like with our current photography technology!

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  6. Wendell Fernandes

    great project inspiration. I feel like really pushing the envelope next time I shoot!

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  7. Hannes Nitzsche

    Great article! Interesting perspective on a time that’s, in our history books, usually dominated by men… Thanks for sharing this!

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  8. Steven Pellegrino

    It’s amazing what color does. These photos look like they are a photo project taken recently.

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  9. Mark Iuzzolino

    I’m glad to see there are such quality images available showing how valuable these women were.

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  10. Black Z Eddie

    Great images.

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