On February 1, 1943, Ms. Gene Grabeel, a US Army Signal Intelligence Service employee, created a secret decryption program that would later be codenamed Venona.  Lasting some 40 years, Venona was designed to gather, examine, and exploit encrypted Soviet diplomatic communications.

Many of the men and women who had helped break Germany’s and Japan’s encoding systems were recruited into the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as communications and intelligence analysts during the Cold War.

Read primary documents relating to Venona.

Venona Intercept
Venona intercepts
Photo Credit: PBS
Genevieve Feinstein
  • Former cryptanalyst for US Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS).
  • Enabled SIS to build “Purple”— an analog machine that decrypted Japanese diplomatic messages.
  • After World War II, was assigned to the Venona project.
  • Read about her work during WWII

Wilma Davis

  • Former cryptanalyst for SIS.
  • At the end of WWII, was selected for Venona project.
  • Left the cryptology field a few times during her career, but returned twice to continue work on Venona.
  • Finished work on Venona during the Vietnam War.


  • Wilma Davis
    Wilma Davis
    Photo Credit: NSA

Marie Meyer

  • Employed as a German linguist by Signal Security Agency during World War II.
  • Worked on Russian correspondence.
  • Assigned to Venona by NSA.
  • Credited with making some of the initial recoveries of the Venona codebook.

Marie Meyer
Marie Meyer
Photo Credit: NSA

 

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