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Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California, June 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California, June 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.Library of Congress
Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California, June 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California, October 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Women at work on C-47 Douglas cargo transport, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California, October 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Chicago and North Western Railway Company, Mrs. Dorothy Lucke, employed as a wiper at the roundhouse, Clinton, Iowa, April 1943. Photographed by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration.
Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Tennessee, February 1943. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Electronics technician, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., Akron, Ohio, December 1941. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Women war workers, Ohio, circa 1942. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Chicago and North Western Railway Company, Mrs. Irene Bracker, mother of two children, employed at the roundhouse as a wiper, Clinton, Iowa. April 1943. Photographed by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration.
War production workers at the Vilter [Manufacturing] Company making M5 and M7 guns for the U.S. Army, Milwaukee, Wis. Ex-housewife, age 24, filing small parts. Her husband and brother are in the armed service. February 1943. Photographed by Howard R. Hollem for the Farm Security Administration.
Two women workers are shown capping and inspecting tubing which goes into the manufacture of the "Vengeance" (A-31) dive bomber made at Vultee's Nashville division, Tennessee, February 1943. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer for the Farm Security Administration.
Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies, June 1942. Photographed by David Bransby for the Farm Security Administration.
Drilling on a Liberator Bomber, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, October 1942. Photographed by Howard R. Hollem for the Farm Security Administration.
Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, Chicago and North Western Railway Company, Clinton, Iowa, April 1943. Photographed by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration.
Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California, June 1942. Photographed by Alf
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See Amazing Photos of the Real 'Rosie the Riveter' Women of World War II

The famous World War II propaganda image of 'Rosie the Riveter' may have been directly inspired by women like Norman Rockwell model Mary Doyle Keefe, who died in 2015, and actual riveter Rose Monroe. But Rosie's enduring power was the result of her universality.

As America's men were called away to fight in World War II, women filled their industrial jobs as never before. When the federal government launched a plan to streamline the entire American workforce for maximum efficiency in 1942, the White House said it "definitely includes woman power."

These photos are just a few of the hundreds that were taken by photographers who worked for the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information in the years leading up to and during World War II. Their earlier work was focused on preserving a picture of American rural life as the nation struggled through the Depression— some of the most iconic images of the Depression were taken under the auspices of the FSA—but by the time the U.S. joined the war, their new goal was to show the world what it looked like when the nation mobilized for war.

The unit lost its funding midway through the war, but the images its photographers had already managed to create help shape a picture of what it looks like when all hands—regardless of gender—pitch in for a larger cause. As the world marks International Women's Day on Tuesday, an event that originated with women workers, they're also a vivid and striking reminder of the importance of that history.

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