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Caught My Eye: The Interesting Connection between VHP, 300-Year-Old House

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Head and shoulders screen grab of woman from an oral history interview.
Ann Caracristi during VHP interview. Veterans History Project, AFC/2001/001/30844.

As the National Security Agency’s (NSA) first female deputy director, Ann Caracristi was a trailblazer. I find it apropos that we pause to recognize her on this, the first day of Women’s History Month.

That’s not the only reason Caracristi is on my mind today. Her name caught my eye in a Washington Post article that ran on February 26th, but it wasn’t because the author mentioned some of Caracristi’s accomplishments as a cryptanalyst (code breaker). They were already well-documented in her three-part, digitized Veterans History Project (VHP) interview. It was actually because the story describes the interesting home in which Caracristi lived until she passed away in January 2016 at the age of 94. The house, described as small enough for one to “assume a family of Lilliputians lived there,” was built in the 1700s. There is no way I could gloss over a description like that without doing a double-, make that triple-take!

I’m not certain exactly what inspired Caracristi to call such an historic, or tiny for that matter, structure home for 65 years, but I’m guessing she wasn’t the type of woman who would have enjoyed residing in one of today’s “cookie cutter” homes. This was a woman who was so bright and adventurous that the Signal Intelligence Service, later known as NSA, recruited Caracristi during her senior year of college to do World War II intelligence work in Washington, DC. The rest, as they say, is history.

Go here to access additional VHP collections from women who served in a myriad of roles—trailblazers or not. Happy Women’s History Month!


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