Rosies Invade the Yard!

August 12 & August 13, 2017

Charlestown Navy Yard


Join us for a two-day extravaganza celebrating the role of women workers at the Charlestown Navy Yard!

Thousands of women worked at the Charlestown Navy Yard during World War II. The Yard's newspaper called them SWONs: the Shipbuilding Women of the Navy. They fulfilled roles from painters to welders, and riveters to sheet metal workers. Their efforts played a critical role in the outcome of the war and left a lasting mark on American history. Come join us in remembering and celebrating the work of these Shipbuilding Women of the Navy!

A couple in center dancing to music, other dancers are in the periphery.
Swing dancing returns to the Navy Yard! Free lessons will be available before the live music and dancing on Saturday. More live swing will fill the air again Sunday afternoon!
(All events are both Saturday and Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Swing & Dance

  • Rosie the Riveter Dance Routine
    Saturday, 2 p.m. & 2:30 p.m. - Music & Dance Tent

    Enjoy a performance by Studio 109 as they dance their way to building an airplane. Girls ages 8-18 dance to Rosie the Riveter and Sing, Sing, Sing. 4 Minutes.

  • Swing the Night Away!
    Saturday, 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. - Music & Dance Tent

    As the sun begins to set on the Charlestown Navy Yard, join Boston Swing Central and The Easy Winners to swing the night away! Free swing dance lessons will be provided at 6:30 and the music will start up at 7!

  • The Mood Swings Orchestra
    Sunday, 1 p.m. & 2:10 p.m. - Music & Dance Tent

    Enjoy the swinging tunes of The Mood Swings Orchestra, an all female big band. Since 2003 the Mood Swings have been delighting audiences with their repertoire of swing music from the 1930s and beyond.

A Collage of five photographs. Left top: Boy sits in jeep. Left bottom: Girl colors at table. Center: Woman ties red bandanna on child. Top right: children at easels. Bottom right: Costumed workers at jeep.

Hands-on History:

  • Hands on History Tent
    1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

    Do you think you would have made a good Navy Yard employee in World War II? Try your hand making a worker badge, twisting rope, riveting, and more! Explore activities and games for little hands and the young at heart!
    Don’t forget to strike your best Rosie pose in front of the “We Can Do It” selfie station!

  • Victory Gardens
    Saturday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. - Hands-on History Tent

    Learn how gardening helped bring victory with the folks from Fenway Victory Gardens - the longest continuously operating World War II Victory Garden in the United States!

Woman flexing her right arm against a yellow background with a speech bubble reading "We Can Do It!"

Ships & SWONs:

Tours and Special Exhibits

  • Rosie Roll Call
    9 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Navy Yard Visitor Center
    View photographs and newspaper articles featuring the SWONs: Shipbuilding Women of the Navy. Have a Rosie in your family? Honor their legacy and add them to the roll call!
  • Rosie’s Navy Yard
    11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. - 60 minute ranger-led tours. Tours begin at the flag pole on Pier 1
    Over 8,000 women joined the workforce at the Boston Naval Shipyard to help win World War II. Join this free walking tour to explore their stories.
  • Vehicles for Victory
    11 a.m. – 4 p.m. - Pier 1 and 1st Avenue Come explore the different kinds of vehicles that were transported by Landing Ship, Tanks (LSTs). The men and women at this Navy Yard built 44 LSTs during World War II.
  • Visit USS Cassin Young
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Explore the main deck of this World War II Fletcher-class Destroyer! Look for SWON stations and learn about the vital role women played in building these ships. During World War II, over 80 destroyers and destroyer escorts were built by this Navy Yard.
  • USS Cassin Young Guided Tours
    11 a.m., Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m. - 45 minute ranger-led tour.
    See how these ships were built and learn about the men who served on board. FREE tickets are available first-come, first-served, aboard the ship. Visitors must be over 42” in height to participate in this tour. *Note: Ship activities may be canceled or modified due to weather and/or tidal conditions.
A woman dressed as a 1940s Navy Yard worker presents behind a podium.
Scholars and tradeswomen will share their research and experiences throughout the two day special event.

Rosie's Legacy: The 2017 Speaker Series


We’ve invited colleagues from nearby historic sites to share their sites' legacies of working women during World War II. You’ll be surprised by the stories these special places can tell. All talks will take place at the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center Theater.

  • SWON: Shipbuilding Women of the Navy
    12:45 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Park Ranger Polly Kienle, Boston National Historical Park

  • How Boston Defended Its Harbor: The Challenge of World War II
    1:30 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Park Ranger Tristen Healey, Boston Harbor Islands State & National Park

  • Doing Their Bit: WOWs in Manufacturing

    2:15 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater
    Presented by Park Ranger Scott Gausen, Springfield Armory National Historic Site

  • On the Home Front
    3 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Alena Shellenbean, Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH

Photographs of Marla Miller and her book Betsy Ross and the Making of America and Diane Simmons and her book the Courtship of Eva Eldridge. Background shows women welders welding a hull together during World War II
Keynote Marla Miller of UMass Amherst and speaker Diane Simmons of City University of New York will present in the Sunday series of lectures.

Diane Simmons photo courtesy Trilogy Photo Lab. Background: BOSTS 14958-5, Women welding the hull of DE-279 at the Charlestown Navy Yard in 1943.


Today’s talks and panel are dedicated to exploring the place of women in the trades. From training to work clothing to restrooms, the work world had to change when women took up jobs in the trades. Please note that the keynote speaker at Noon and the panel discussion are at the USS Constitution Museum Theater. All other presentations are at the Navy Yard Visitor Center Theater.

  • SWON: Shipbuilding Women of the Navy
    10:30 a.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Park Ranger Polly Kienle, Boston National Historical Park

  • Keynote presentation:
    Rosie before Rosie: Betsy Ross and Women's Defense Work in Early Philadelphia
    Noon - USS Constitution Museum Theater

    Presented by Marla Miller, UMass Amherst

    In this talk, Marla Miller will discuss the life behind the legend of Betsy Ross, and place her wartime experiences in the context of women and work in early America. Two centuries before Rosie the Riveter came to symbolize women's wartime defense work, Betsy Ross and women like her across early Philadelphia pitched in when needed to advance war efforts. As a flagmaker during both the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and in her work making ordnance for the Philadelphia arsenal, Betsy Ross joined women of her generation who offered their skills to the nation.

  • The Courtship of Eva Eldridge: Reception, Depiction and Rejection of Women Shipbuilders on the Oregon Coast during World War II
    1 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Diane Simmons, City University of New York
    Book Signing will follow presentation.

  • Race and Rosie
    1:45 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Allison Horrocks, Public Historian

  • Women in the Trades Today: Welding
    2:30 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Stef Adams, Seven Cycles

  • A Proper Pair of Dungarees: The Significance of Women’s Workwear
    3:15 p.m. - Visitor Center Theater

    Presented by Taylor Johnston, Gamine Workwear

  • Rosie’s Legacy: Women in the Trades
    4 p.m. - USS Constitution Museum Theater

    oin our panelists in an exploration of how the working women of Boston’s Navy Yards set a precedent during World War II that still has meaning today.
    Moderator: Polly Kienle
    Panelists: Stef Adams, Allison Horrocks, Taylor Johnston, Diane Simmons, & Elizabeth Skidmore

Learn more about the Shipbuilding Women of the Navy here.

Last updated: August 10, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston , MA 02129


(617) 242-5601

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