Today’s Wonder of the Day takes you back to the days of World War II, when the United States — and, indeed, the entire world — was consumed by the battles taking place in so many areas around the world. Although there are still wars being fought in different areas of the world today, it’s hard for most young children to understand what it was like to live through World War II.

In many ways, World War II happened during a simpler time. Technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. Life moved at a slower pace. In fact, many women stayed at home to raise children and run the household, while men would work outside the home, often in factories.

When the United States was drawn into World War II, though, life changed for many people. Millions of young men joined the military and were sent overseas to fight in battles in foreign countries.

Life at home was not the same either. Not only did the families of the people serving in the military miss them, but there were huge voids to fill in many different areas of everyday life. One of the biggest voids was in American factories.

When young men left to fight in the war, many had to leave their jobs in factories. This was a huge problem, because the military relied upon many factories to produce the things needed to fight a war, including weapons, ammunition, airplanes, tanks and all sorts of other supplies.

So how was this void filled? The women of America accepted the challenge and began to work the factory jobs left open by soldiers fighting the war. For many women, this was a big deal, as it was the first time they had ever held a job outside the home.

Women working in factories soon came to be called “Rosie the Riveter” because of a song of that name written in 1942 by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The inspiration for the song was Rosalind P. Walter, who worked in a factory that made the F4U Corsair fighter airplane.

The song praised these women for their tireless work to support the American war effort:

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter

Over the course of the war, “Rosie the Riveter” became a symbol of feminism and the power of women to make a difference in society. Another real woman — Rose Will Monroe — also became closely associated with the image of Rosie the Riveter, when she appeared in a promotional film about the war effort that also included the popular song.

One of the most enduring images people associate with Rosie the Riveter was the Westinghouse “We Can Do It!” poster created by J. Howard Miller. The poster promoted the war effort at home, and the woman shown on the poster is who many people think of when they hear “Rosie the Riveter.”

After the war, many women returned to their previous roles in the home. However, many women chose to continue to work in factories. For many, the war experience had shown them a new life that they enjoyed and wanted to continue. Many historians point to Rosie the Riveter as the inspiration for a new generation of women to consider careers they had never before thought were possible.

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  1. We were very curious about life during World War Two for girls and boys. We wondered what it would be like for kids during that time.

    Our predictions for tomorrow include: lifting weights, pioneers, insects, insects working out, slug bugs (car), eating bugs for healthy drinks.

  2. Rosie the Riveter was a very tough group of women. We didn’t know much about them before watching the video today. We appreicatiate all of the work they did to support the troops overseas.

    Predictions for tomorrow: Ironman, gold mining, blacksmith, electronic bugs like for spies, life signs, Minecraft, miners, science, exercise, bugs exercising, bugs consuming something with iron, treasures, pumping something to use create an iron bug, and frozen bugs.

    • How right you are, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ class! We are so glad you enjoyed learning all about the Rosie the Riveter movement during WWII. We applaud their efforts, too! :)

      Thanks for sharing all your great ideas for the next Wonder; we are proud of you for using context clues to form your guesses! :)

    • Great point, Landon! We did a bit more research to find out that Captain America, the character in the comic book, came to life in March of 1941! Thanks for helping us Wonder even more, Landon! :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed learning about Rosie the Riveter today. Dylan’s mom even works in a factory today. Thank you Rosie!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about iron bugs, working out, or even mining for iron.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s class

    • How cool! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us today, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! We are glad that you shared, too, Dylan! That’s WONDERful! Tell your mom she rocks! :)

      Thanks for using your awesome imaginations to guess the next Wonder of the Day®! We’ll see you soon! :)

  4. Today’s wonder wasnt what I expected. I didn’t know the kids were going through a hard life in World War Two.

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about mining, finding dead bugs under iron.

    • We sure are glad you learned something new today, Ky Duyen Quang! Life during WWII was very trying, but people made it work, no matter how tough times were. We can’t wait to Wonder with you again! Thanks for stopping by to visit! :)

  5. We really liked the video today. It was awesome “meeting” a real live Rosie the Riveter.

    We think tomorrow might be about bugs lifting weights, people lifting weights, eating frozen bugs, ants because they can lift more than their weight.

    • We’re thrilled to know that our Wonder Friends in Miss Holden’s 2nd Grade Class are here! HOORAY for WONDERing today! It’s fun to learn about history, and events that still affect the way we live today!

      All your guesses are SUPER– thanks for being creative! See you tomorrow! :)

  6. Some of us never knew who Rosie the Riveter was so this was really interesting to learn about! We were so proud of Brock from the PM class who guessed that she would be the topic for today’s Wonder.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about ants because they are so strong they can lift 10 times their weight, an ant lifting weights in the McDonald’s commercial, Bumblebee from Transformers, the Australian Beetle because it is so strong, or the history of Transformers.

    • WOHOO, we’re VERY proud of all the great guesses you shared yesterday, including Brock’s winning Wonder guess! Nice work! :)

      Wonder Friends in Mrs. Ski’s AM Class, we’re so happy you’re having a SUPER time WONDERing about Rosie and all she did for females during WWII. Thank you for using your brains and imaginations to guess what the next Wonder will be! So many super ideas! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re glad we could Wonder about an American icon with our Friends in Ms. Janke’s Grade 5/6! We sure are glad you stopped by to visit us today! See you soon! :)

  7. We were THRILLED to have our Brock guess this Wonder correctly! Whoohooo for our WWII historian! :)

    We thought it was an awesome wonder because we listened to the song about Rosie the Riveter and it sure sounded like nothing we would hear on the radio today. It was fun to sing along with though. It had a little bit of a Hawaiian feel to it.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about weather bugs, weather bug app, idioms, ants, strong beetles, iron bugs, or people who eat bugs to add to their nutrition…ewwww…but maybe? :)

    • WAY TO GO, Brock! :) We’re so glad that you correctly guessed today’s Wonder! WOHOO!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about our Wonder today, Mrs. Ski’s PM Class! You’re right, the song does have a Hawaiian vibe to it! Great observation!

      We can’t wait for tomorrow’s interesting Wonder! Thanks for stopping by to visit! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Merle! We are glad you learned about the important role women played in the WWII workforce! :)

  8. I have heard of her before. Never heard her name, but I have seen her picture. I have NO Idea of what tomorrow’s wonder will be. It’s so complex to think about. It might be about bugs??

    • We’re so glad you learned more about Rosie the Riveter today, Gina M! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be either… it’s going to be a great one! :)

  9. Thanks for telling us about Rosie the riverter she is pretty cool thanks for the WONDER it was fun to read about. I hope do something super cool tommorow! Have a good afternoon XD :P :)

    • We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about Rosie today, Chris! :) We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be- we hope to see you soon! :)

  10. I liked today’s wonder and thought it was cool but I did not know who she was til now. I think that tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about iron bugs or the app weather bug. (good app :) we use it in science and it is really cool!)

    • Hi there, JC, thanks for visiting us today! We’re so glad you learned all about Rosie the Riveter with the rest of your Wonder classmates! Thanks for sharing your awesome guesses, too! HOORAY! The weather bug app sounds awesome, too! :)

    • Hi there, Mary! It takes a long time to develop a Wonder– it takes lots of research and writing to get it just right! We hope you’ll visit us tomorrow to find out what the next Wonder will be! :)

    • That’s so cool, Chrissy! We love that you and your classmates are WONDERing with us! HOORAY! Rosie the Riveter is pretty great, and we sure are glad we learned about the women who worked hard in factories across the country! :)

    • Hi there, James! We’re glad you’ve been WONDERing about Rosie the Riveter with us today; you make a great point about the other events that took place during that time. Thanks for pointing out Dieppe, in France, and World War II, we will have to do some more research about those places and events to create another Wonder! :)

  11. We are learning about Rosie in class and I was wondering is there are any good sites to find anything more about her?

    • How awesome, Wonder Friend Andrew! We are glad you’re WONDERing about Rosie in school… she’s a super historical figure and an inspiration, too! Rosie has a dedicated website where you can learn more about what she accomplished: http://www.rosietheriveter.org/. We bet that is a great place to start! We bet your librarian can help you with some more Rosie research, too! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who was Rosie the Riveter?
  • What did Rosie the Riveter symbolize?
  • How did Rosie the Riveter help the American war effort during World War II?

Wonder Gallery

Rosie the RiveterVimeo Video

Try It Out

In today’s world, women can and do hold every type of job imaginable. Because of this, it may be hard for some kids to understand what things were like around the time of World War II.

Do you have a grandmother or older relative that you could talk to? Ask them about what life was like “way back when.” What changes have they seen over the years?

Think about the people you come into contact with on a regular basis. Do you know women who work as police officers or firefighters? What about doctors and lawyers? What types of jobs do the women closest to you do?

If you want more of a historical perspective, jump online and read some Rosie Stories that have been submitted by women who were real examples of a “Rosie the Riveter.” Just imagine the changes they’ve seen over the past 60 or more years!

Still Wondering

Check out Smithsonian’s History Explorer to use their Changing Gender Roles on the World War II Home Front lesson to help children start a research project on gender roles on the World War II home front with two brief video clips and a selection of primary sources.

Wonder What’s Next?

Grab a bug and head on over to Wonderopolis tomorrow to pump some iron!

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