Code Girls

by Liza Mundy

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 330

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II is the true account of the more than 10,000 women who were recruited by the army to break codes. The story follows primary sources to consider the impressive work of these women in Washington, DC, and Arlington, VA, in the 1940s. The author, Liza Mundy, mentions many of the codebreakers but focuses in on three: Agnes Driscoll, Ann Caracristi, and Dot Braden.

Agnes Driscoll attended Otterbein College and was fluent in many languages. She was recruited by the army in World War I to the Code and Signal section by the Director of Naval Communications. She worked on Japanese code in World War II and is acknowledged as a cryptanalyst.

Ann Caracristi attended Russell Sage College and was recommended to the Army Signal Intelligence Service by the Dean. She was trained in cryptanalysis and worked on the codes of the Japanese. She worked on deciphering the Japanese code that gave away Japan’s surrender. Caracristi went on to be deputy director of the National Security Agency.

Dot Braden is now in her 90s. She hails from Lynchburg, VA. Mundy describes her as

a very representative character of the kinds of young women who were recruited by the Army from all around the South, but also the Midwest. She’s representative of a generation of women who did go to college at a time where it was very unusual.

Dot was encouraged by her family at an early age to attend college. She attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and received a degree in English. She taught at a high school in Chatham. Dot was then recruited by the army and was trained in cryptology. She was essential to breaking the Japanese army’s codes that were used by supply ships. The army required that codebreakers not share their work with others. As such, not even Dot’s husband knew of her work until years after the fact.

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