Library of Congress/Courtesy Reminisce Magazine
April 1943: draped in denim and swigging from Mason jars, nine female “wipers” take a break from hosing down locomotives in the Chicago & Northwestern railroad’s Clinton, Iowa, roundhouse.
More than two million American women worked in war industries by 1945, changing the face of factory labor as we knew it. Photographer Jack Delano’s vivid color image (shot on assignment for the Farm Security Administration) survives in the Library of Congress as a humanizing vision of these real-life Rosie the Riveters.
“I thought I could portray ordinary working people in photographs with the same compassion and understanding that Van Gogh had shown for the peasants of Holland with pencil and paintbrush,” Delano wrote in his autobiography. We’d say he nailed it.