The second large group of images comes from the records of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor. Early in November 1918, just before the war ended, the Woman in Industry Service asked employers around the country to send in photographs showing women at work. In response, the WiIS received several hundred photographs that were then used for posters and slide shows to illustrate good and bad working conditions.(1) On the backs of most of the photographs, the Woman in Industry Service staff wrote captions identifying the task or the company. Some of the captions also include evaluative comments such as “good lighting” or “no seats provided.”
The Federal Government also, during the First World War, collected photographs through the War Department and the Signal Corps. Both agencies made some effort to record not just the soldiers but also the workers in war industries.
During the Second World War, the Office of Emergency Management hired professional photographers to document the war on the home front. Alfred T. Palmer created thousands of images that were then published in magazines, newspapers, and books. Gordon Parks, working for the Farm Security Administration, produced photographs of both rural and urban America. Many of the photographs by Palmer and Parks are clearly meant to inspire and celebrate, as well as to record the war effort. Three of these images appear in the epilogue of Rosie's Mom.
The two posters included in Rosie’s Mom were created through the Division of Pictorial Publicity, a group of artists headed by Charles Dana Gibson. Gibson had been recruited by George Creel, head of the Committee on Public Information, to help publicize the government’s war aims and to build support for the war effort. Donating their work to the cause, the artists of the Division of Pictorial Publicity submitted 700 poster designs and hundreds of other images to government departments and patriotic committees.(2) The drawing for the newspaper advertisement in Chapter 6 was almost certainly produced by one of the artists in Gibson’s group.
The remaining illustrations in Rosie’s Mom come from a variety of
sources. Unfortunately, most of the photographers are unknown and we can only
guess at the feelings and motivations of those who created the images. All of
them, however, give us a sense that the women pictured were doing something
remarkable and out of the ordinary.