Postal Service honors women cryptologists of WWII with new stamp

Photo courtesy U.S. Postal Service

The stamp includes a cipher that can be used to crack a secret code.

The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating the release of a new issue of Forever stamps honoring the thousands of women cryptologists whose work in World War II played a critical part in the defeat of the Axis powers. 

The agency hosted a first-day-of-issue ceremony to commemorate the new stamps at the National Cryptologic Museum in Maryland on Tuesday. Jakki Krage Strako, the Postal Service’s chief commerce and business solutions officer, described the work of the historic women cryptologists as "one of the conflict’s best-kept secrets."

"During World War II, some 11,000 women labored day and night, helping to process and decipher an endless stream of enemy military messages,” Strako said. "With this stamp, the U.S. Postal Service honors all of the women cryptologists of World War II, whose service played an inestimable role in the Allied victory.”

The stamp's design includes an image from a World War II-era Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) recruitment poster. That program helped expand the number of women recruited to work as cryptologists in the armed forces following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Between the Naval Reserve program and the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, women volunteered to serve as cryptologists that broke encrypted Japanese and German messages. Women made up the majority of cryptologists working in the U.S. by the end of the war.

The stamp also contains a cipher, with a pane on the back that includes a key to cracking the code.

The non-profit Let's Encrypt described the women cryptologists featured on the stamps in a tweet as "STEM pioneers" who "laid the groundwork for the future of information security."

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