Michigan Reclaims the Rosie the Riveter Guinness Record
Although Labor Day has come and gone, the state of Michigan still has a reason to celebrate arguably the most iconic symbol of American working women: Rosie the Riveter. After an intense 10-month waiting period, the Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized an event held at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center in Ypsilanti as the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Rosie the Riveter.
Although approximately 5.8 million American adults dress up as a witch for Halloween, last October there were 3,734 people who gathered at an event (organized by the Yankee Air Museum) decked out in red polka-dotted bandanas and navy blue coveralls to portray someone a bit less scary and a lot more inspiring.
Their intent was to bring the record back home to Michigan after it had been stolen by the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, based in California, back in 2014. Michigan managed to reclaim the record the following year, but lost it again to the same park in 2016. In response, the Yankee Air Museum devised a campaign that subsequently paid off when the Guinness Book officially recognized Michigan once again this year.
It’s a rather fitting homecoming, explained Yankee Air Museum Executive Director Kevin Walsh in a statement, seeing as Rosie’s legacy reportedly started in a Michigan Ford B-24 bomber plant. Walsh explained that the real Rosie, whose real name was Rose Will Monroe, worked to build bomber aircraft with thousands of other women during WWII.
But another woman may have actually been the inspiration for the emblematic figure. Naomi Parker Fraley, who worked at the Alameda Naval Station, has also been credited as the real Rosie the Riveter. Rosalind P. Walter, who worked as an aircraft welder in Bridgeport, Connecticut has also been profiled as the real Rosie and associated with her legacy.
But more important than identifying the singular woman behind the sensation — or whether she even used one of the two main types of riveting machines at all — is the fact that Rosie’s attitude defines an entire generation (and subsequent generations) of women. Not only did the thousands of people in Michigan prove that they “can do it,” but many other girls and women are inspired by Rosie’s no-nonsense strength and perseverance. Now, let’s just hope that Michigan can keep the record for the foreseeable future — or at least put up a good fight.