1940s Transportation, Science & Technology/Willow Run and Rosie

I though long and hard what to present when writing about Transportation and Science and Technology that would be found in 1940. I could have talked about the great vehicles  built in 1940. GM, Ford, Hudson, Nash and many other automobile makers made many improvements to the automobile. Then I thought maybe I’ll write about the improvements in air travel or travel by train.

I settled on the people and not the advances themselves. It takes people, time and effort to bring about these changes. I live in a very diverse technological area.  Just east of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, even closer to Eastern Michigan University, both of which have added to learning and teaching. I live but a mile from another important hub in the 1940’s, Willow Run Airport.  You ask me what does Willow Run Airport have to do with anything but transportation? You question would be founded in most cases, but many changes have occurred on this piece of ground straddling the Washtenaw and Wayne Co. border in Michigan. Maybe the most well know use for this property was as a B-24 bomber plant run by the Ford Motor Company. Willow Run was also one of the many plants where young women from all over lower Michigan came to work, known as “Rosie the Riveter” , during WWII and the building of the B-24 bombers. There were two Rosies, but the one used for the propaganda program to encourage husband to spur their wives to take on goverment jobs to help with the war effort and many thousands, worked at Willow Run. According to Wikipedia ,Rosie the Riveter became most closely associated with Rose Will Monroe, Rose was born in 1920 in Pulaski County Kentucky and moved to Michigan during WWII. Rose worked at Willow Run Airport.

This trend in many cases changed the factory work force in the years to come. The women were encouraged to return to their earlier jobs, usually with less pay, or to return home to homemaking after the end of the war. There were those who stayed on at these jobs.

The airport didn’t open until 1942 and Rosie wasn’t Rosie until WWII so these things won’t found in the 1940 Census, but I am sure curious how many of the  women will be found in the Wayne and Washtenaw Counties here in Michigan whose lives in a few short years are changed forever as they “help” with the war effort as working women in the Willow Runs of this country. Their places in the home and “women’s” work force will be found in the 1940 Census.

Who was the Rosie in your family, you can find her in the 1940 census.You can find her yourself by joining the 1940  U.S. Census Community Project today and help to index the 1940 census.

Happy Hunting!

Julie Hogston - Visit Website

About Julia Hogston

Christian, Family Historian, Wife, Mom, Grandma
1940 U.S. Census Community Project, Genealogy, Tech Tuesday, the1940census , , , , ,


  1. Sue

    Hello Julia…What a wonderful post for the 1940 Census Project. I really enjoyed the history of Rosie the Riveter and your geographical connection to her story. How very special to be a part of the history of ‘The Michigan Women’ at Willow Run. Well done and best of luck.

    I hope you will have a chance to stop by CollectInTexas Gal and read my entry entitled Ring-A-Ding-A-Ling…1947 Mobile Phone Calling.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this story!

  3. Very interesting how the bomber factory became an airport, a natural progression, I suppose. All those bombers being built have to take off somehow! I didn’t know Rosie was from the Michigan area; very interesting.

    If you have a minute, would love to hear what you think about my posting, which is more technology oriented.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you Michael for taking the time to read my post. Willow Run has been a very important part of this area. After the War the bomber plant became an automobile plant, whose doors just closed in 2010. My husband worked there for 30 yrs.

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