Friday, December 31, 2010

We Can Do It!

I was saddened to learn that the woman who inspired this famous World War II poster died yesterday at the age of 86. Her name was Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She was 17 when a United Press Photographer took a picture of her working at a Michigan metal factory in 1942.

Artist J. Howard Miller, who had been commissioned by the government to create a series of motivational posters for factory workers, saw the photo and created this poster. While the face in the poster is Geraldine's, her daughter says she did not have those muscular arms. According to her daughter, Geraldine was 5'10" tall and very slender.

Over time, the poster has become an icon of women's empowerment. "We CAN do it" and we do. During World War II, women further demonstrated their rightful place in the American workforce. They contributed to this nation's infrastructure and help shape the course of American history. They served their country at a time of great need and demonstrated to the nation that they were and are equal to the task.

As for Geraldine, she didn't last very long at the factory, taking a job instead at a soda fountain because she was worried factory work would keep her from playing the cello. As fate would have it, her future husband walked up to that soda fountain. Geraldine was married to Leo Doyle, a dentist, for 66 years. They had six children, 18 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. She didn't recognize herself in this poster until 1984, when she saw it in Modern Maturity magazine.

Read more about Geraldine here.

1 comment:

krisgray said...

Cool! Never thought about who might have been the inspiration behind the famous poster. I may have to get out my panel and quilt it!