“Kitty” Kalwasinski Markovich donated photographs and clippings, including this one, to the Southeast Chicago Historical Project. During World War II, Kitty, who was a welder, had been depicted by Warner Brothers in a photo shoot as a “Rosie the Riveter” of the South Works mill at Carnegie/US Steel. During the war, the steel mills had been eager to find replacements for male workers serving in the military. Women were encouraged to perform industrial labor as part of the war effort. This cartoon illustrates those efforts (and the ethnic stereotyping that was a disturbing aspect of war-time mobilization).
Kitty had been born Kazmira Kalwasinski. She emigrated to South Chicago with her family from Poland in 1913, when she was 10 years old. At age 16, she began working as a maid. Her father Stanley worked in the steel mills (as had her grandfather in Poland). Many of Kitty’s siblings also worked at South Works, including her sister, Nancy, who become a crane operator and then, later, worked in the mill office. In her donation to the Museum, Kitty provided clippings from US Steel publications publicizing the war-time efforts of women, as well as photographs of her own family members who served in the military during World War II. Although many women stopped working in the steel mills after the war ended, Kitty did not. She was a career welder and worked at South Works for 23 years. She met her husband Michael Markovich in the maintenance department at South Works. Kitty retired from South Works in 1967.