On August 14, 2016, 2,270 people (yes, men were allowed!) all dressed as the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” gathered in the giant Ford Assembly Building craneway in Richmond, Calif., to beat the current Guinness World Record for such an event. More than a record-breaking gimmick, it was a testament to the impact of the World War II Home Front, and specifically honored the women who participated in the war effort.
The record had been previously held by 2,096 women at the site of the World War II Willow Run bomber plant in Michigan. During the war the workers at that Ford-owned factory turned out B-24 Liberator bombers; in 1945, the upstart automobile manufacturer Kaiser-Frazer moved in and by June 1946 began producing cars for the huge postwar market.
During World War II the Ford plant in Richmond was surrounded by 4 Kaiser shipyards, which together produced 747 ships to help win the war. The social programs that accompanied the war effort — such as efforts to integrate housing, provision of quality child care, acceptance of women in the industrial workforce, opportunities for women and people of color in trade unions, and the Kaiser health plan — were precursors of many subsequent social justice efforts, including the civil rights movement and second wave feminism.
The Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond is the only National Park to cover this important period in national (and California) history. It’s well worth a visit — on most Fridays, you can visit with these real Home Front workers from World War II. Please call the Visitor Education Center for schedule, 510-232-5050.