E163 - The Women of Newnham College

Apr 25, 10:56 PM

April 2024

Women were the backbone of Bletchley Park during World War Two. At its peak in January 1945, the workforce was 75% female, but even at the start of the war, women comprised a significant portion of GC&CS’s numbers. Women were recruited in a variety of ways, but a significant quantity of them, particularly early in the war, were selected direct from prominent universities such as Oxford, St Andrews and Cambridge.

Over the last few years, a team of members of Newnham College Cambridge have been researching the women from their college who worked at Bletchley Park and in other wartime roles. They have discovered, astonishingly, more than 70 students and alumnae were recruited to BP. After close collaboration with the team at Bletchley Park Trust, a new exhibition presents their findings and reveals some hidden histories.

In this episode, recorded at Newnham College, Bletchley Park’s Head of Content, Erica Munro, meets the three women behind this new research and we visit the exhibition to find out more about their discoveries. Dr Sally Waugh, Dr Gill Sutherland and Newnham College Archivist Frieda Midgley share what they’ve uncovered, and what surprised them, about the Newnham women who worked at Bletchley Park.

This episode features our Oral History recordings of three of those Newnham women:

Sister St. Paul
Lady Elisabeth Reed
Mrs Brenda Lang

Image: Reproduced with the permission of Dr John Clarke via Kerry Howard from her research into the life of Joan Clarke.

#BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #Newnham,