By: Sofya Korneeva
It is 65 years later, but recollections of World War II are sunk into memories of its veterans forever. With thousands of books written on the topic, and hundreds of movies showing us the reality of the most tragic war of the 20th century, many stories still remain untold, and many people are still waiting for recognition. “The Top Secret Rosies” lecture, that was conducted on Thursday, March 11, at Camden County College, served as a preview for the upcoming documentary on an unknown subject of World War II.
Six years ago LeAnn Erickson, Associate Professor of film and video production at Temple University and an independent filmmaker, decided to make a film about four women mathematicians who were involved in a World War II effort on the side of the Allies. In 1942 Doris and Shirley Blumberg, Marlyn Wescoff and Betty Jean Jennings were recruited into the US Army and became ones of many thousands so-called “female computers”, who secretly worked at the University of Pennsylvania. Their duty was to calculate mathematics of ballistics, and while other organizations created bombs, these women made sure they were accurate. Erickson said that those women realized “the bombs are being dropped on real people”, but the desire to end the war as soon as possible made them work 6 days a week, sometimes two or three shifts in a row, without any vacations. “These women were young; they had their whole lives in front of them”, emphasizes professor Erickson and quotes Marlyn, one of the women, who recalled that “it may seem terrible, but it was a wonderful time, we were doing something important, we were doing the job that we really loved; it was that mix of a very sad time and also a very happy time”.
Today there is a myth that women are bad at mathematics, and that is why the main target of this documentary is young female students, whom LeAnn Erickson wants to show that “those very well paid jobs, they can do them too”. She is also very happy and proud that through this film many people who were not recognized as heroes of the War, now, have finally received deserved acknowledgement.
Erickson is very excited about the upcoming premiere of the film that is going to take place in Philadelphia, and has already assigned it to various film festivals. The broadcast of the documentary on public television should begin in May.