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Bletchley Park Week 2023: ‘Nice girls’ and ‘Professor-Types’

DateWednesday 22 February 2023

Time17:30-19:00

LocationHub

A talk by Bletchley Park’s Research Historian, Dr David Kenyon, on the Graduate recruitment practices of the Government Code and Cypher School 1919-1945.

A contradictory mythology has grown up around the Codebreakers of Bletchley Park; on the one hand the staff are seen as privileged, upper-class “Dons and Debs”, on the other hand the later preponderance of female employees and the apparent tolerance of the organisation for neuro-divergent staff has led to the assertion that GC and CS was a forward-looking and liberal employer.

Neither of these characterisations is entirely true or false, but both are over-simplifications of a recruitment process which was the product of a mix of the class, race and gender prejudices of the times, the regulations of the Foreign Office and Civil Service, and latterly, the demands of a European war.

In this talk Bletchley Park’s Research Historian Dr David Kenyon examines just who was recruited to GC and CS from the universities, and how. This provides a more authentic picture of the senior workforce at BP, and shows that both by accident and design, the right people ended up in the right jobs when it really mattered.

This is an in-person event in the Hub. Registration is required.

Refreshments will be served from 5.00 pm, followed by the talk at 5.30 pm. There will be a Q&A session after the talk, and a drinks reception.

Bletchley Park Week:

This event is part of our annual Bletchley Park Week programme of events celebrating a partnership between Oxford and Bletchley Park. This year’s event is entitled ‘Oxford, British universities, and the Second World War: Intelligence and Beyond’

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This event will be photographed and filmed. If you do not wish to appear in the photographs/footage, please let the photographer/videographer know. Should you have any further queries, or unable to attend after booking, please contact events@kellogg.ox.ac.uk.

Open to: Members of Kellogg College, the public,