Recently, I attended a virtual Smithsonian Institute seminar created by the American Women’s History Initiative called, Female Spies of World War II given by two CIA men. These presenters reviewed Virginia Hall’s story as well as those women whose narratives have not been as visible, yet who were involved in classic espionage and analysis for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
In its heyday of 1944, the OSS had 13,000 members in which one in three employees were women. Since the OSS was the forerunner of the CIA, I left the Zoom call wondering, with all the diversified hiring recently at the CIA, isn’t there a qualified woman who could have discussed these women’s narratives? Or, a knowledgeable woman at the Smithsonian International Spy Museum? Also, why wouldn’t the male presenters say, no thanks and stay in their lane?
I hope with the hard won passing (20 years since inception) of the legislation in the US to establish a women’s history museum via the Smithsonian Women’s History Act, that women’s stories, which have been subjugated and left out of the historical record, will be authored, displayed and presented by women. There is expansive inclusion of woman planned from all walks of life, different abilities, and trans and queer communities. Crucial to authenticity of these displays and stories will be that they are authored and supervised by the people they reflect.
On another note, recently the women of Bee Line DAR Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated women in various roles in WW 2 including 800 Native American women who served in the military. For an overview of the gathering, of women celebrating women, see Bee Line DAR.