Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I've written several times this spring about old employee photo I.D. badges. Now PermaRec reader Kirsten Hively has found one of those badges in an unusual place: the familiar "Rosie the Riveter" poster, shown above.

See that little pin on Rosie's collar? Looks like an employee I.D. badge, right? I've looked at that illustration a gazillion times but had never noticed the badge until Kirsten pointed it out to me the other day. Let's take a closer look at it:

It's a Westinghouse Electric employee I.D. badge! That makes sense, because the Rosie illustration was commissioned by Westinghouse's War Production Coordinating Committee, which was looking to inspire the company's female workforce. You can learn more about that here and here. (Those links also explain why the it's actually a misnomer to refer to the poster as "Rosie the Riveter," but I'm going to keep calling it that for now, because it's a convenient, easily understood shorthand.)

The Rosie image has been adapted, copied, and repurposed countless times over the years. Some women taking inspiration from the image make a point of including the I.D. badge while others don't bother with it. Maybe those in the latter category were using this "How to look like Rosie" guide, which doesn't include the badge.

And here's someone who flopped the original orientation of the Rosie image and then Photoshopped her own face onto it, apparently not realizing (or caring) that the "Westinghouse Electric" lettering on the original badge would appear backwards on her flopped version.

Did Westinghouse Electric really have badges like the one shown in the illustration? They sure did. Not only that, but some enterprising soul on Etsy has used that badge design as the basis for a replica Rosie I.D. badge. (They also offer the same design as a zipper pull, but come on — that's cheating.)

Anyway: Employee photo I.D. badges — endlessly fascinating!

(Big thanks to Kirsten Hively for spotting Rosie's badge.)


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  2. Sorry, I left out the link, and thus deleted the original. I was going to say that I think you'd enjoy this short documentary from the Library of Congress about Rosie. If I remember it correctly, they historian even points out the badge. Very interesting stuff.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04VNBM1PqR8