The Original “Rosie the Riveter”, Keefe, Dies at 92

Rosie rose
My heart hurts for the family of Mary Doyle Keefe, who passed on at the age of 92. Keefe was the original model for Norman Rockwell‘s iconic “Rosie The Riveter” painting. She was 19, living in Arlington, Vermont next door to Rockwell. At the time, she was a telephone operator. Rockwell called upon Ms. Keefe to model for the illustration that would later appear on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” on May 29, 1943.

Rosie the Riveter, portrayed by Ms. Keefe, became a symbol for millions of women who went to work, many for the first time, during World War II. These jobs that were once for men, such as in factories, assembly lines, welding, as taxicab drivers and business managers, were taken on by these incredible women.


By 1944, the movement increased the number of women to 20 million. And they weren’t limited to just whites either. Females of all backgrounds including African-American and Latina were among the 6 million Rosies around the country.

This one woman set into motion a revolution that has yet to slow down. It’s so easy today to take for granted our womanhood. Everyone likes to drop the F-word. But you don’t have to be a feminist to stop, look around, and smile with a grateful heart. I want to send my condolences to her family and friends.

Mary Keefe

 The original painting is part of the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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