Top Secret Rosies of WWII

August 11, 2009

Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) operate the ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo from the archives of the ARL Technical Library)

Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) operate the ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo from the archives of the ARL Technical Library)

In the fall of 1944, 20-year-old Doris Blumberg was on a train to California to work at the Monroe army base as a mathematician on a top-secret project.

Doris is one of many women featured in “Top Secret Rosies: The Female ‘Computers’ of WWII,” a documentary directed and produced by Temple film prof, LeAnn Erickson.

This past weekend, Erickson presented an illustrated lecture about the Top Secret Rosies of WWII and screened the film’s trailer film of the National World War II museum in New Orleans. The one-hour, high definition documentary, currently in post-production, focuses on the women recruited by the U.S. Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor .The army needed comprehensive ballistics information on all of its weapons right away. With male mathematicians already serving in the military, the government turned to women who worked in complete secrecy for three years.

After the war, a few of the women stayed on board to program ENIAC, the world’s first electronic computer.

For more on the Top Secret Rosies read Erickson’s blog: http://topsecretrosies.wordpress.com

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