‘Rosies’ Featured at Vulcan for Museum Day

By Howard R. Hollem, United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division

The Smithsonian Magazine has its 14th annual “Museum Day” this Saturday. That means free admission to thousands of museums around the country. Here in Birmingham, one participating museum — Vulcan Park & Museum — is putting a twist on the Smithsonian’s theme: Women Making History. Casey Gamble is Vulcan’s museum coordinator. She tells WBHM’s Janae Pierre how they plan to incorporate Rosie the Riveter for this year’s event.

Interview Highlights:

Incorporating Rosie the Riveter with the Museum Day theme:

“We had to give some thought to how we wanted to bring in the “Women Making History” theme and the first thing that we thought of was incorporating “Rosies,” who were so important during World War II. At the start of Birmingham’s history in the 1870s, women did have a much more traditional role in the household. And by the time we get to World War II things are changing. And of course most of the jobs that these women were doing did directly relate to the STEM world; science, technology, engineering and math. And they were doing incredible things that for the time period were mostly unheard of for women.”

On partnering with the American Rosie the Riveter Association:

“They are an incredible group and were actually founded here in Birmingham. But it is a national group that exists to honor “Rosies” and keep their stories. They have published several books that have firsthand accounts of the stories of different “Rosies” throughout our area but all over the nation. We are very happy and excited to be partnering with the Rosie the Riveter Association and to be able to honor these ladies.”

Sharing oral histories of women as industrial workers:

“That is such an important part of what Vulcan does on a daily basis, just making sure that the younger generation really understands and respects what has come before them. At the event Saturday, we will have tables set up throughout the museum with these ladies telling their stories, giving the opportunity for young girls and boys from around the area to come and hear firsthand what these ladies experienced and how it was different for them. Hopefully they’ll come away with a new appreciation for the older generation.”

Dress like Rosie contest:

“We are very excited about that. At 2 p.m., we will be having a dress like a Rosie contest. So you know we have in mind the traditional look of the Rosie and were very excited about it; I’ll be dressing up myself.  So take it to whatever extreme you would like. We would love to see some unique looks and have a lot of fun with it.”


Other local museums offering free admission Saturday include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama. Free Museum day tickets are available to download at Smithsonian.com/museumday.