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College of Science & Mathematics

"Top Secret Rosies" film screening and reception

Date: Friday, April 29 @ 5:30pm


Through the efforts of the Physics Club President, Emma Cortes, and Math Department Chair Larry Howe, Rowan will host a screening of "Top Secret Rosies" at Rowan on Friday, April 29, in the auditorium of Bozorth Hall. The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. The screening begins at 6 p.m. and will conclude with a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker.

In the 1940s, Cortes' grandmother and great aunt--twin sisters Shirley Melvin and Doris Polsky--were "Top Secret Rosies," members of a group of 100 gifted female mathematicians whose work for the U.S. Army helped win World War II.

The women worked six days a week, around the clock in a clandestine ballistics lab at the University of Pennsylvania. From the bombing of Axis Europe to the assaults on Japanese strongholds, their work involved creating ballistics tables that ultimately proved crucial to Allied success during the war.

Further, their work as "human computers" led to the development of the ENIAC, the first electronic computer developed for the Army.

The women's efforts went virtually unnoticed for more than half a century until last fall, when documentary filmmaker LeAnn Erickson, a Temple University professor, produced "Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II." (

The event is free and open to the public.

(Photo courtesy of "Top Secret Rosies," 2010, Producer/Director LeAnn Erickson)

Location: Bozorth Hall Auditorium