WWII American Home Front Oral History Project

I’m often asked, at readings, about the inspiration for “Wax”. I was inspired by oral histories I read — transcripts of interviews with women who worked in the shipyards during WWII — obtained through Rosie the Riveter, WWII Home Front, National Historical Park.

“Wax” is a work of fiction. The women in “Wax” are imagined, but their experiences are crafted from story threads gathered from “real life” interviews. I distinctly remember a story one Rosie recalled — about her welding supervisor telling her she’d get the rhythm for connecting beads of molten metal — like the rhythm for “knitting or crocheting” — but they were things she had never learned to do. Or the Rosie who was waiting at a bus stop when her vision went dark — the result of a flash burn to her corneas. These conversations and more, between interviewer and subject, fueled my imagination.

On Friday, I was contacted by David Dunham with the WWII American Home front Oral History Project, and learned that his team had completed those interviews, and that more are coming! Approximately 100 transcripts are now available online, at http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/rosie/
with an additional 75 expected by the end of 2012.

If you have stories to share, schedule an interview by contacting David at ddunham@library.berkeley.edu You will inspire generations to come.

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