In 2003, while completing a documentary film on racial block busting during the 1960’s in Philadelphia, I stumbled upon the story of Jewish twin sisters recruited as teenagers to do secret math research for the US Army during WWII. Finding this story was both a remarkable and infuriating experience- teenage girls doing math to win WWII and I had never heard of them! I became determined to help tell their story.
Over the course of the next 7 years I immersed myself in the milieu of Philadelphia during the 1940’s, researching the recruitment of women to the war effort, discovering the secret computing lab at the University of Pennsylvania, and finding de facto segregation everywhere in the City of Brotherly Love. I interviewed people, raised funds, wrote voiceover and edited film, finally completing the feature documentary “Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of WWII” in 2010.
Thanks to PBS distribution and an interactive ebook (2014), this little known story of women mathematicians who helped win WWII has reached a broad educational audience. But with the recent success of STEM based films, it feels like an opportune time to bring this story of women, war, math, and computers to a wider audience through a fictionalized episodic series.