[UPDATE: Some folks seem to think I spelled Cryptography incorrectly in the title to this post. But that isn’t how Agnes Meyer-Driscoll was known. See Remembering the First Lady of Naval Cryptology. I originally referenced the NSA’s site, because why not. Maybe I should have used the Navy’s site.]
Agnes Meyer Driscoll sounds like an extraordinary woman. She was born July 24, 1889 and passed away on September 16, 1971.
In June 1918, about one year after America entered World War I, Agnes Meyer enlisted in the United States Navy. She was recruited at the highest possible rank of chief yeoman and was assigned to the Code and Signal section of the Director of Naval Communications. Except for a two-year hiatus, when she worked for a private firm, Agnes Meyer Driscoll (she married in 1924) would remain a leading cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy until 1949.
She worked to break the Japanese naval codes of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. She worked to break the cipher of the Orange Machine, which wasn’t quite the Japanese Enigma. And she did work on Enigma, though that code was broken by the British.
In 1949 she transferred to the Armed Forces Security Agency, which became the National Security Agency in 1952. She retired in 1959.
Hat tip to Coffee or Die (which is becoming one of my favorite reads). 7 Badasses in the U.S. Navy — Who Aren’t SEALs! Which is worth your time in its own right. (Beach Jumpers, the USS Seahorse, and more.)