Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Eddie Lee

Committee Member

Dr. Virginia Williams

Committee Member

Dr. Catherine Chang


Winthrop University, Women, World War II, Cryptology, Cryptanalysis


During World War II, college-aged women from across the nation filled United States Army and Navy secretive cryptanalysis facilities to help win the war. For many women, colleges facilitated involvement in codebreaking. Through information gathered in oral histories, this thesis primarily explores war related programs at American colleges and the young women that became cryptanalysts. Academic institutions, like Winthrop College, became the nuclei for colligate codebreakers. They acted as early crypt education centers, through the offering of cryptology classes, functioned as recruitment centers, and operated as essential training hubs. While in school, young women were saturated by a climate of war and secrecy as campuses became militarized during this period. Their careers in academia and moral character came into account when cryptanalysis sectors began searching for loyal workers. While working as codebreakers for the United States government, women experienced a degree of freedom and witnessed a change in their position. In the name of the war effort and patriotic ideologies, female cryptanalysts broke codes and tested the strength of American ciphers. From college campuses to Army and Navy facilities, young women played essential roles in the war effort.