Unheadlined is a new section of the MC Sun that provides a brief overview of stories that did not make the weekly headlines.
For centuries the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster has been used as a symbol of America’s welcoming of feminism. Over the years, a number of women were identified as the real inspiration for the symbolic character, but only until 2015 did society began to acknowledge the real Rosie.
For years, a wartime factory worker, Geraldine Doyle, claimed she saw herself in the original photo and it was she who was represented in the poster. This became widely accepted without enough information to debunk Doyle’s claim. After Doyle passed away in 2010, obituaries were published across many news corporations affirming her as the real “Rosie.”
Despite the prolific admiration and recognition Doyle received, Professor of Communications at Seton Hall University, James Kimble was unconvinced by her story. Kimble searched for the photograph of a woman believed to be the inspiration for Pittsburg artist J. Howard Miller’s depiction of the wartime female worker.
After extensive research, Kimble discovered an image of Naomi Parker Fraley dated March 24, 1942, taken in Alameda, CA. Using this new information he began his search on Parker Fraley and her story seemed to line up with the date and caption of the photograph.
Parker Fraley, born in Tulsa, OK in 1921, was the daughter of a mining engineer. Her family constantly moved from town to town, before settling in Alameda, CA. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, 20-year-old Parker Fraley and her 18-year-old sister, Ada Fraley, began working at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. This is where the photograph was taken by a photographer for the Acme photo agency. The image was featured in an article for the Oakland Post-Enquirer.
When Kimble finally found himself outside the door of Fraley’s house in Cottonwood, CA, Fraley displayed her personal copy of the original photograph, ultimately confirming Kimble’s research.
Fraley died on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the age of 96 in Longview, WA.
After 70 years of society misidentifying the real “Rosie,” Fraley told People magazine, “I didn’t want fame or fortune, but I did want my own identity.”