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Geraldine Doyle, WWII Poster ‘We Can Do It!’ Inspiration, Dies 86

Posted by 4love2love on June 29, 2011

Geraldine Hoff Doyle (July 31, 1924 — December 26, 2010) was the real-life model for the World War II era We Can Do It posters, an embodiment of the iconic World War II character Rosie the Riveter.

Because the We Can Do It poster was created for an internal Westinghouse project, it did not become widely known until the 1980s, when it began to be used by advocates of women’s equality in the workplace.

In 1942 Geraldine found work as a metal presser in a Michigan factory. (As men started enlisting and being drafted into military service for World War II, women began to support the war effort by taking on roles, including factory work, that were formerly considered “male only.”)

Because she was a cello player, Geraldine feared a hand injury from the metal pressing machines and soon left the factory. During the brief time she worked there a wire photographer took a picture of her. That image – re-imagined by graphic artist J. Howard Miller while working for the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee — became the basis for the poster Miller created during a Westinghouse anti-absenteeism and anti-strike campaign.

Doyle didn’t know she was the model for We Can Do It until 1984, when she came across the original photograph in a 1940’s back issue of Modern Maturity Magazine.

Death of Geraldine Doyle
Geraldine Doyle died in Lansing, Michigan, due to complications from arthritis.
Geraldine Hoff Doyle was 86 years old at the time of her death.

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