"We couldn’t see each other through the metal. You’d be over there shakin’ like this and I’d be doing the same thing over here to [to get the riveting hammer lined up]. It was heavy and we did it for about 12 hours a day."
Clara Hunter Doutly, who was a World War II Rosie the Riveter, celebrated her 100-year birthday on October 21, 2021. Doutly was one of the first Rosie the Riveters – of any color. She was also among the rare and dedicated 600,000 African American Rosie the Riveters who were a part of the war time efforts during the early 1940’s.
Ms. Doutly was born on October 21, 1921, in Detroit Michigan. During the 1930’s, Doutly, was an aspiring student at the prestigious Cass Technical high school in Detroit Michigan. Under financial pressure from the lingering effects of the Great Depression, she left school to work for the Briggs Manufacturing company, located in Detroit Michigan. Doutly worked as a riveter, helping to manufacture Boeing B-29 Bomber Superfortress planes.
Doutly took with her a strong devotion and hard work ethic which helped to move this country forward during World War II. Doutly has stated that, many time during the manufacturing process, she would ignore the difficulties of the work and just concentrated on her job and performance. Doutly would sometimes hold a rivet hammer and work ten hours a day to meet the demand of the war time efforts. In her off hours, she enjoyed relaxing at Belle Isle Park with her friends. For many years she and others called themselves the “Modern-Day Rosie’s” which is now a part of American history. The name “Rosie the Riveter” refers to women who were dedicated to the nation and went to work in the manufacturing industry and plants during the 1940’s. The term “Rosie” has also become a great symbol for women in the workforce.
After her war time efforts at ended, Doutly married Mr. Sylvester Doutly in Detroit Michigan. Ms. Doutly went on to start a working vocation with the Detroit Public School Community District. At age 68, Doutly began volunteering at the Detroit Senior Center (daily) and proceeded to do so for the next 3 decades. Unfortunately, Doutly never had the chance or opportunity to complete her education at Cass Technical High school. So, on her 100th birthday celebration, Cass Technical High school presented her with an honorary degree.
In addition to her honorary degree, Clara Doutly has received many other prestigious awards for her contributions to her community and nation. Larry Sargent, vice president of the Tuskegee Airman National Museum, presented Doutly with the Tuskegee Airman National Museum Challenge coin. This recognition is only awarded to special individuals that were a part of American history during the war time efforts as a military token. Ford Motor Company also honored Ms. Clara Doutly with a bench on the east side of the Belle Isle Park. It will be a source of great memories for many generations to come. In addition, the city of Detroit presented Doutly with a special birthday card for her 100th birthday that included a wish from the mayor Mike Duggan. The mayor felt this was a special birthday for a great honor of a lovely individual.
Clara Hunter Doutly Born in Detroit, Michigan
Attended Cass Technical High School
Left Cass Technical Highschool to work as a riveter, building parts for the B29 Bombers at the Briggs Manufacturing Plant in Detroit
Clara left the Briggs Manufacturing Plant and began to work with Detroit Public Schools
Clara was featured in National Geographic's 75th Anniversary, Last Voices of World War II
Clara celebrated her 100th Birthday. She was also awarded an honorary diploma from Cass Technical High School
Ford Motor Company donated a bench to Clara Doutly in Belle Isle park