I recently heard the NPR segment from August 4th about the plant where Rosie the Riveter actually riveted, along with thousands of other women who built B-24 bombers during WWII. The segment less discussed the time in history but rather the need to preserve what remains. It was a hopeful plea to help raise awareness of the funds needed for the Yankee Air Museum, which suffered an arsenal setback destroying portions of their previous collection. Obtaining the factory’s hangar doors would allow the Yankee Air Museum to house their planes and exhibits in the 180,000 square feet they are trying to acquire. The museum’s annual budget is unfortunately the barricade blocking the way.
The non-profit Yankee Air Museum has an annual budget of $2 million. However, the cost to restore the new facility will be $8 million. With a generous donation of $2 million form GM, the Yankee Air Museum is still $3.5 million shy of being able to salvage the plant where Rosie riveted before a planned demolition.
There is a great need to rescue and restore the relics of a time when women were first propagandized to join the labor market for the sake of scholarship in Women’s and Gender Studies, Economic history and the war effort, Aerospace manufacturing history, and Business law regarding Labor and Unions, at the minimum. I would like to see this story have a happy ending and think publicity is the key to getting the word out of the importance of such special collections and historic artifacts. This plant was unionized and racially integrated “where men and women both worked in manufacturing jobs doing equal pay for equal work in the 1940’s, when that was absolutely not the norm in American industry” (NPR–Museum tries to save the plant where Rosie riveted). With such historical significance, I don’t understand why this plant is not yet registered as a historical landmark. It is possible that could be part of the solution to prevent demolition if the museum is not able to raise the total funds in time.
Furthermore, for local interest in the subject matter, the Special
Collections at the Oviatt Library at CSUN holds an extensive collection of
labor documents and historical artifacts on propaganda in wartime and civil
rights in the U.S. Many of these documents have yet to be exhibited however some are part of the upcoming exhibit “In Protest” set to open September 17, 2013 – July 26, 2014. This exhibit would be perfect for all disciplines in the fields of social sciences and humanities specifically, but not limited to Political Science, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Business Law. There are more documents to see aside from the exhibit which can be arranged at the Oviatt Library.
Exhibits such as “In Protest” in Special Collections at the Oviatt Library at CSUN and the original plant that the Yankee Air Museum is desperately trying to salvage are the essential threads of the human experience in seeking an autonomous life and an independent community, reminding us of the price paid so that we can be ever closer to those liberties.