An organization called Washington Women in Trades is searching for women in the greater Willamette Valley who worked in nontraditional jobs in the 1940s, especially during World War II.
These “Rosie the Riveters” who respond to the call will be interviewed as a way to preserve the legacy and celebrate their work, as well as the possibility of becoming a “calendar girl” for a project sponsored by the trade group.
The project began in 2002, when Robin Murphy, co-chair of Washington Women in Trades, had an idea to gather Rosie the Riveters for a luncheon at her annual trade fair.
Murphy felt these women were the foremothers of the modern tradeswoman. More than 100 women attended the event.
As Murphy looked for other ways to honor their legacy, in 2007 she partnered with Cindy Payne, a graphic designer, marketing and event professional, to produce 12 calendars. Murphy took stunning black and white photos of each woman, while Payne designed, wrote and managed the project. In all, they met and interviewed more than 140 women.
For both women, they say the project has been one of the most inspirational things they’ve ever done.
“Each woman had a unique story and through meet and greets, signings and other promotional events, (we) built deep and meaningful relationship with many of the Rosies,” Murphy says.
Now, many of these women have died. Of the first few calendars, there are only three women still living. Murphy and Payne broadened their reach and, thanks to the assistance of the national Rosie Association, they met with women across the country. They produced one calendar of women all from Lewis County, Washington, and one calendar of women all from Eugene.
Seeking and photographing women from the Portland will be their final calendar.