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"Even before Pearl Harbor, the Navy knew they needed more cryptographers." (Audio Interview, 0:50)

   Ann Ellicott Madeira
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: WAVES (Navy Women's Reserve)
Unit: Naval Intelligence/ Cryptographer
Service Location: Washington, DC
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
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In her senior year at Bryn Mawr College, Ann Ellicott was approached in confidence about work for the government. This was before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but Washington was already recruiting bright young women to work as code breakers. Ellicott moved to Washington after graduating, sharing an apartment with three other women. Their work could be tedious, but the results could also be exhilarating, as when their ability to decode a message about Japanese air traffic led to the U.S. shooting down a plane carrying a high-ranking enemy admiral. Life in the capital could also be exhilarating; wearing a uniform, she notes, was an easy way to meet and make friends.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
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»Intel:Behind the Scenes
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Even before Pearl Harbor, the Navy began scouting for cryptographers from many elite colleges. (01:11) First day at work in Washington, DC, was full of surprises. (01:42) How the code used by the Japanese navy was deciphered. (03:27)
Her office contributed directly to important naval victories. (00:35) Kept out of the WAVES because of her poor eyesight, but with help from the recruiting office passed the test. (01:11) Dress uniform was all she had to wear for her first week of training at snowy Mt. Holyoke. (01:04)

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  October 26, 2011
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