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March 28, 2022

Cordelia Dodson Hood

When German troops invaded Austria in 1938, Cordelia Dodson was visiting Vienna, living with her siblings as they studied German, attended the opera, and marched with Austrian students protesting against Hitler. Even with this experience, Cordelia may have settled into academic life in the United States, but when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and the US entered the war, she felt called to serve her country.

In a decades-long career in Europe, Cordelia Dodson Hood combined her linguistic skill, her phenomenal memory, and her ability to connect with people, to gather and analyze intelligence, first about the Germans, and then about the Soviets. Despite the importance of her intelligence work, her story has been largely hidden, overshadowed by the splashier spies of the time.

I’m joined in this episode by Kathleen C. Stone, author of They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. Photo Credit: “Cordelia Hood, undated.” Photograph by Nam de Beaufort, courtesy of Sarah Fisher. Audio credit: “Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood),” written by Johann Srauss, and performed by Erna Sack in July 1949, Public Domain.


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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please, tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too.

In today's episode, we are discussing intelligence officer Cordelia Dodson Hood. Cordelia Dodson was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1913, the oldest of three children. Cordelia's mother had run a photography studio, but once she had children, she was a full-time mom. Cordelia's dad was a newspaper man turned lawyer. When Cordelia was six, the family moved to Milwaukie, Oregon, to live in the country surrounded by farms. However, Cordelia's family stood out in a large house on the hill, owned by the lawyer, while all of the nearby farms were struggling to get by. Eventually, Cordelia's dad needed to be paid in something more than vegetables. And he gave up his law office to work for the Portland Chamber of Commerce, focusing on the construction of the proposed Bonneville Dam, which would make the Columbia River into a source of hydroelectric power. He later worked in Washington, DC for Oregon Senator Charles Linza McNary on the same issue. McNary helped to pass legislation to create the dam. Cordelia started college at the University of Oregon, before transferring to Reed College. She earned a BA from Reed in literature in 1936 and headed to France with a friend to live with a family and study French. Following this stay in France, Cordelia travelled across Europe by train, going to Florence to see the family of another college friend; and then to Germany, where she met up with her brother Daniel, who'd been expelled from Reed for driving a car across the campus lawn; and with her sister Lisbeth, who had previously been acting in New York. From Germany, they headed to Venice, where Cordelia and Daniel took language courses, and Lisbeth took voice lessons. On March 11, 1938, the three siblings went to the Vienna State Opera House to see an opera. At intermission, they walked outside to get some air and discovered that while they'd been inside, the Viennese police had begun wearing swastikas. Hitler had invaded Austria, and the country's government was Nazified. A friend helped Cordelia and her siblings find a place to live in the mountains near Switzerland, where they learned the Swiss-German dialect. Their friend who was Jewish, was arrested and sent to Dachau, but Cordelia's father, luckily, was able to help free him. Cordelia's parents implored their children to come home. Upon returning to the US, Daniel re-enrolled at Reed and Cordelia joined him to complete an MA in German, which she earned in 1941. By late 1941, she was living in Washington, DC with her father and sister. Her mother had recently died. Cordelia was considering doing a doctorate in linguistics when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and she knew that she had to help. A former Reed professor hired her into the Office of Facts and Figures, where her work included going to the movies to see how the war was being presented to Americans. The Office of Facts and Figures then merged into the Office of War Information. Cordelia wanted something that would use her skills more effectively, including her knowledge of aviation, from flying lessons she'd taken. So she took a job with the Pentagon, tracking deployment of Luftwaffe craft. Cordelia's skill in German caught the eye of General William Donovan, known as Wild Bill, who was launching the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS and Cordelia was hired to go overseas. Like most women in the OSS, she was hired for the clerical ranks and had to learn to type and take shorthand. Cordelia was sent to London and assigned to the X-2, the counter intelligence unit, to work on the "ultra" operation, translating German communiques now that the code had been broken.

Finally, in December, 1944, Cordelia received an assignment for something other than clerical work, escorting two Swiss socialists from London to Zurich. She stayed in Switzerland, in Bern, cultivating sources, including Swiss police to gather and analyze as much intelligence about the Germans as she could. Her knowledge of the Swiss-German dialect from her time in the Austrian mountains served her well. As the war started to come to its conclusion, Cordelia and the American intelligence community worked to prepare for the eventual War Crimes Trial. Allen Dulles, who was the OSS station chief in Switzerland at the time, wanted to get the diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano who was the executed husband of Benito Mussolini's daughter Edda. The count had served in the government, but had opposed it and recorded what he saw. One of Cordelia's college friends, Emilio Pucci, had been Edda's  lover, and Cordelia used her connection to him in the long negotiations to secure the diaries. After the war, Cordelia stayed in Switzerland with the OSS, which was now turning their attention to gathering intelligence on the Soviets. In Switzerland, Cordelia met another OSS operative, Bill Hood, and in 1950 they were married in Washington, DC. The couple returned to Europe, to Vienna, to work with the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, where Bill was chief of operations and later chief of the Vienna station. Because Cordelia couldn't report to Bill, she worked instead at the Office of Policy Coordination, or OPC, where she worked on a contract basis so that she could move when Bill was assigned elsewhere, as he was throughout Europe for the next 25 years. In 1975, the couple divorced. Since Cordelia had worked as a contractor during their marriage, she didn't earn pay grade raises and suffered in retirement pay. Cordelia retired in 1980, settling down at Pemaquid Point on the coast of Maine. In 1988, she moved to Damariscotta, Maine to live with her sister Lisbeth. Cordelia passed away at home on July 14, 2011 at age 98. Joining me to help us learn more about Cordelia Dodson Hood is Kathleen C. Stone, author of "They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men." So, Kathleen, welcome and thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Kathleen C. Stone  9:54  
Thank you. It's wonderful to be with you.

Kelly Therese Pollock  9:57  
Yeah, so I want to hear a little bit about what inspired this book that you wrote, you know, what, what made you decide you wanted to write it? And it sounds like it was a lot of work. So we'll talk about that. But but you know what, what got you into this?

Kathleen C. Stone  10:11  
It was a lot of work, but it was in a way, a fulfillment of a childhood interest. I write in the introduction about myself as a young girl, around the age of eight, thumbing through my father's books on the bookshelf in our living room, and one of the books was the yearbook from his class in law school. He graduated from law school in 1950. And I remember, looking at the pictures, almost all of them of men, almost all of them white, and wondering why there weren't more women in his class. And then there were a few women, and about those particular women, I wondered, what made them go to law school when, from what I could see, in my own life, that was highly unusual. I did not know any women lawyers. Most of the women were like my mother, in our neighborhood, at home with children. And as far as I could tell, from my eight year old vantage point, that's what white middle class women did. But I knew, but two things disrupted in my mind that narrative. One was I knew my mother had worked at IBM before I was born. And she loved that job. And I used to wonder whether she maybe would have liked to have kept that job. The other thing that disrupted that narrative was knowing that there were these women who had gone to law school with my father. So I always wondered what made them think they should do that when it was against what women were expected to do. But of course, I didn't, I mean, that was a childhood, wondering and fantasy. Of course, I grew up, had my own life. I went to law school. And after I'd been practicing law for about 30 years, I started to think, "Well, what else do I want to do with my life?" And this, I don't what had been sort of an idle curiosity, when I was a kid, came back, and it was still somewhere inside me. And I decided to find out, talk to women of my, essentially my parents' generation and find out what had made these women ambitious, and how they had pulled off their careers when that was not what was expected for women.

Kelly Therese Pollock  12:37  
Yeah, and so I want to talk some then about how you chose these women. So in the book, it's seven women, and I believe you say in the intro that you talked to more, and these were the ones who ended up in the book. What drew you to these particular women? How did you decide that these were the people you wanted to talk to for this book?

Kathleen C. Stone  12:57  
I had two primary criteria to start with. One was age. I've wanted them to be born before 1935. And in fact, I think the earliest birthday was 1913. So there's a range between 1913 and 1932, I think. So that's that's essentially placed them in my parents' generation. The other criteria was that the women would have gone into professions that were male dominated. By the time these women came of age, women were definitely in the workforce. And certain professions were really dominated by women: teaching, secretarial, and nursing, for instance. But I wanted to find women who had done something even less predictable than having one of those careers. So I was looking for lawyers, doctors, scientists, artists, and in one case, a woman who was in the intelligence service during World War II and thereafter. So those were my primary criteria. And then, as you're right, I did interview more women than these particular seven. But as I sorted through the various interviews and transcripts, these just sort of fell into place as sort of telling the story. Obviously, each individual's story, it's her own, with her own variations, but placed together I think they tell a story of what life was like for women in professional jobs between, say 1920 and 1970.

Kelly Therese Pollock  14:39  
Yeah, and it's such a fascinating, so you know, you're just sort of going and looking for these women, but they had these incredible stories, all of them all seven, at least, who ended up in the book, just you know, any of these. It could be like a movie. It's incredible that they have such interesting stories and yet aren't particularly well known as you know, some of them are known in particular fields or in particular places, but they're not household names. They're not people that everybody would know. 

Kathleen C. Stone  15:09  
You're right. And infact, actually, I'm glad you brought that up, because that is something else that I was, a decision I had to make when I was deciding who to interview and then whose interview to include. And I decided that I didn't want women who were super famous, because I was afraid that a reader would be maybe focused on the one who was famous and not the others. So I was looking for those who were a little bit below the radar screen, and weren't super famous, although, as you say, were well known within their fields. So that that was something else that I was aware of, as I was deciding which interviews to use in formulating the sort of the curation of the, the stories.

Kelly Therese Pollock  15:52  
So let's talk about Cordelia some. So you're you actually knew her already. And that's what sort of brought you to her that you even knew that she was a person to talk to. So what what was that relationship? How did you know her?

Kathleen C. Stone  16:08  
She, Cordelia Hood was a colleague of my husband's father, in the CIA in its very early days in Europe. My husband's parents met Cordelia and her husband in Vienna in around 1950, when my husband, was a very young child, and his parents went to Vienna for, so that his father could work in the CIA. And Bill Hood, Cordelia's then-husband was chief of station. And so they had known, my husband's family had known Cordelia for you know, 50 years, so that's how I met her.

Kelly Therese Pollock  16:55  
Yeah. And so we'll sort of maybe work backwards a little bit. When you're talking to all of these women, of course, they were very old. And that was one of the limiting factors too, right, that you could only talk to women who were still around to talk to. So when you were talking to Cordelia it was, you know, she was, I think in her 90s at this point when you were interviewing her. But it sounds like she had this sort of had incredible memories of the times earlier in her life. And you were really able to learn a lot about her. I went around looking, there's not a whole lot written other than your book that she's included in. But you were able to get such a wealth of stories about her childhood, about her time in Europe before the war and then about her work in intelligence. So tell me a little bit about your, your process in you know, talking to her and talking to other people in in getting this information.

Kathleen C. Stone  17:56  
Well, in every case, I interviewed the woman in person, with one exception, one exception, Dr. Martha Lepow. Frankly, she was in her 80s when I talked to her. She didn't have time for me to come interview her personally. She was too busy with her work at the hospital. So we had a couple of long telephone conversations. I then, as she started to wind down her work, I did go visit her several times and I met her and we had dinner and lunch several times in Albany, where she was working. So I did meet her in person, but that I every everybody else I met initially in person. And with Cordelia, of course I knew I knew her socially. And we had had dinner and family dinners and we'd gone sailing together. So I knew her in that casual social way. And I had heard a lot of stories about her work in OSS and then CIA, either through casual conversation or stories that my husband and his family had told. But I did but I had two lengthy sit- down interviews with Cordelia and I recorded them as I recorded all of my interviews, and then I had a transcript prepared. In addition with Cordelia, her sister Lisbeth lived next door and I knew her as well. And so I talked to her also about some of the stories and Lisbeth was involved, had also traveled in Europe with Cordelia in the late 1930s as Hitler was coming into power. And so I got some of the stories also from Lisbeth. And then Cordelia's niece, Lisbeth's daughter, who's approximately my age, was also a very helpful resource in telling me stories about Cordelia's life and providing me with photo- graphs which, frankly, which are in the book.

Kelly Therese Pollock  20:02  
Yeah, yeah, they're incredible photographs, too. So it seems like many of the women that you write about are based in cities, you know, like they, they're in New York or Boston, you know, and that and that's sort of a big piece of their childhood and how they get to where they are. But Cordelia, of course, grows up in Oregon, and for parts of this in sort of the "middle of nowhere," Oregon. So, talk to me a little bit about the sort of impact you think that that Oregon and this childhood might have had on the life that she eventually led.

Kathleen C. Stone  20:41  
You're quite right about, there was a big city influence in many of these women's lives. And that wasn't something that I was setting out to find. But it just did sort of happen that way. Cordelia did grew up in a town called Milwaukie, Oregon, which is now apparently quite developed and is really a suburb of Portland. But when she lived there, growing up in the 1920s, it was a farming community. Her family, they were not farmers. So  they were, as she is, I think her phrase was, "We were set aside." Some of the the kids they went to school with, they went to the public schools, didn't maybe quite know how to deal with this family, where the father was a lawyer, the mother stayed home and took care of the children. Nobody in the family was a farmer. In fact, they had they hired man who helped with their gardens. In a way I think, that helps Cordelia, in that she learned very early on to navigate, sort of cultural and class differences. When I knew her as an older woman, she was very comfortable. She was living in Maine at the time. And she was very comfortable with former CIA colleagues. And I saw her in that context. But also she was very comfortable with people in semi rural Maine where she lived. And I observed her in that context as well. And I think that maybe learning how to bridge some of those differences at an early age helped her as a person, and may have also helped her in the work that she eventually did, as an intelligence officer, talking to people in Europe and the United States and getting information and getting their confidence, all of those sort of soft skills she may have developed early on.

Kelly Therese Pollock  22:47  
Yeah. And then it seems like Reed College had a just huge impact on her life, not just the experiences in Reed, but the connections she made that they followed her into Europe. What what sorts of things did she say about Reed? Did she talk specifically about the ways that Reed was, was sort of an influence on her? It just seems like so woven into everything about what happened after she went to college.

Kathleen C. Stone  23:16  
I think intellectually, it was very stimulating for her. She was a, she had a great intellect. She was very broadly read, well traveled, and just interested in many different subjects, history, politics, art, literature. When I remember when I interviewed her, she was planning a trip to Venice, with her, she was then in her 90s, with her sister, who was a few years younger, and her sister's daughter. And she was reading about architecture, Italian architecture, so that she would be well versed when she got there. So she she always had a very active intellectual interest in a number of subjects. And I, you know, so I think that Reed was a good fit in that way for her. And I think it was a relatively small college with a lot of discussion and a lot of interaction with the professors and I so I think that that brought out her intellectual interests. And you're also right about the connections that followed her. Her first job  after the United States got into the war in 1941, was working for the Office of Facts and Figures, and she was hired in Washington, DC and she was hired there by a former professor from Reed. So that was her entree into war related work after Pearl Harbor. But the most probably the most prominent connection was her friendship with Emilio Pucci, who people will probably know of for his fashion design business that he started after the war and he became internationally famous as a designer. But he also in the 1930s was a student at Reed College. He was there for the studies but also for the skiing. And he also has, I believe, designed the ski suits for the ski team at Reed College. So in that was that was a friendship that they established when they were both in college and then it followed them to Europe during during the war towards the end of World War II. When the OSS, the the unit the American intelligence service was involved with trying to secure the surrender of  German troops in Italy, Allen Dulles for whom Cordelia work at OSS in Bern, Switzerland at the time, learned that Cordelia was a friend of Emilio Pucci and Emilio Pucci, by that time, was a friend and romantic friend of Mussolini's daughter. And Dulles sent Cordelia to meet with Emilio Pucci to try to get information about what was going on in Italy and with the German troops and their commander and to help arrange that surrender. So, yes, the college friendship survived at least a decade into the war years and it was put to use in that way. Although, as I point out in the book, at one point, there had been perhaps a flicker of a romantic relationship between Cordelia and Emilio Pucci, or at least Pucci's mother's hoped that there would be apparently. But by the by the time they we met in the, I guess it was in 1945, they were on very different paths politically and geopolitically. And Pucci apparently was a little put out that Cordelia came to visit him not for romantic reasons, but to try to get information. That was her job.

Kelly Therese Pollock  27:29  
Yeah. A lot of people in my generation talk about 911 as being the sort of turning point in their life. I was in grad school, then. I have friends who joined the military and things at that point, you know, that that was the turning point. But for Cordelia and presumably for many, many people of her generation, it's World War II, that is this huge turning point. And it's a turning point, not just because that's the work she ended up doing, but also because the availability of that that worked didn't exist before. And, and certainly the available, you know, the availability of that kind of work for women would have been much less before the war. So can you talk about that, that piece of it that the way that World War II sort of drastically changed the life that she may have led otherwise?

Kathleen C. Stone  28:21  
Sure. Well, OSS didn't exist until the war began until after the war began. It really didn't come into its own as a separate agency until 1942. So that the idea of serving in a civilian as a civilian in a civilian led intelligence agency, there wasn't, there was no career, there was no job. It just didn't exist. I think Cordelia had majored in German in college and had travelled in throughout Europe after college, including in German speaking countries, Germany and Austria, and had then earned her master's degree in German. She was ,when Pearl Harbor happened in December of 1941, she was undecided about what she was going to do next. She was thinking about going to Johns Hopkins and getting an advanced degree in linguistics, and that would have led probably to an academic career. But then all of a sudden, Pearl Harbor was bombed, the United States entered the war, and because she had been in Europe, she had seen the Nazis in Austria when she was there. She she knew when she felt pretty strongly that she wanted to do whatever she could to help her country. And she first worked worked for Office of Facts and Figures. Then she worked for the Pentagon and then she got into OSS. So for her was a more than really any of the other women in the book, the war gave her a career path that had not existed before. And then, of course, CIA came into existence in 1947, after the war. There was a little hiatus between the end of the war in 1945 and the beginning of the CIA in 1947. But she stayed in Europe during that time. And she and some other people were continuing continuing to do intelligence work, but sort of off the books, because CIA wasn't sort of officially started for a couple of years. But and of course, at that time, the emphasis was shifting, had shifted away from Germany, to the Soviet Union that as the Cold War was really beginning, and she became a Russia specialist after the war and CIA. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  30:54  
Yeah. So those of us who perhaps read too many spy novels, probably think of intelligence work abroad, as you know, like getting dressed up in wigs and infiltrating parties and stuff. But that's not really what the vast majority of intelligence work is. So what was it that she was actually doing? Like, what what were the skills that she brought that that really informed her work?

Kathleen C. Stone  31:19  
Well she began in London, working for OSS on what was called the "ultra material." Now, ultra material was the German captured German communiques that were written in code, but that the Enigma machine had allowed the British service and OSS to decipher. So she was looking at German intelligence communiques, so that the United States could understand what the Germans knew the United States was up to and its Allies were up to. So she would review the communiques, translate them, and summarize them and send an analysis to Washington. So that was her first work for OSS. After several months doing that, which required a top secret clearance by the way, she was transferred to Bern, Switzerland where that was the European headquarters of OSS, where she worked for Allen Dulles, who was the head of the agency in Europe. And there she was, her German language skills really came to the fore at that time, she was not only translating as she had been, but she then had a more active role in getting the information. She was sent, her job was to talk to Swiss Federal Police and find out what they knew about what the Germans were doing. And initially, it was very difficult for two reasons. One, the Swiss were maintaining a very strict policy of neutrality. And they did not want to be sharing information with the Americans because they were doing everything they could to not be invaded by the Germans. The other factor that made it her that job initially difficult was that she was female. And the people she was trying to get information from were men who were not used to a woman being in that kind of a role with them so that they were initially reluctant to talk to her. But she her immediate boss was a gentleman named Paul Bloom, who sort of ran interference for her. He would, her she said their technique was to take the Swiss police out for a very nice wine laden lunch. And that he would then treat her as an equal and that they the police then would understand that she was somebody that they could trust and should trust and she was then able to get it. She She helped her get an entree, to their to their confidence. The other factor that really was pivotal was that when she in her first trip to Europe after college, she not only perfected her German, but she learned the Swiss German dialect, which is a very distinctive, difficult dialect, but she knew it and that was what the dialect that the Swiss Federal Police used. So she was able to talk to them directly. And she was the only person in the office who had that ability.

Kelly Therese Pollock  34:53  
Yeah. It's this incredible life.

Kathleen C. Stone  34:58  
Yes, it was Absolutely.

Kelly Therese Pollock  35:01  
I'd like to talk some about the ways that despite the success that Cordelia and the other women you write about, despite the success that they had, the ways that they were still held back by, by virtue of being women in a time when women just didn't have the same opportunities. In Cordelia's case, not just being a woman, but being the wife of somebody else who is working in intelligence and in his career sort of taking precedence over hers. But that's true in some of the other women you write about, too. So I guess maybe could you reflect on that piece with Cordelia but but you know, with the other women as well, you know, what, what obstacles they were still facing, despite being incredibly smart and well educated and supported by their families and all sorts of other things, but still ran into certain obstacles?

Kathleen C. Stone  35:58  
They absolutely do run into obstacles. One woman, not Cordelia, but a woman named Mildred Dresselhaus, who became a very well known scientist and tenured professor at MIT, when she was doing her graduate work, her advisor told her, "Well, women don't belong in this program at all." She did belong in the program, and she got her PhD in physics. But you know, that was that was typical of the of some people's attitudes about where women belonged, and really didn't belong. I think, I think Cordelia's situation was maybe the most compromised event, at least after the war by the fact that she was a woman. Some of the other women in the book had to balance the fact that they were a two-career couple, and they had children, and they, you know, all of us, working women know what that is like. And that's true, no matter what the greater society thinks, you know, we all have somebody's got to be home with the kids and somebody's got to take them to school or you know, all those things that make up all of our lives. And in many of the women in the book, obviously had to deal with those kinds of challenges. But Cordelia has had a particular situation in that, as you mentioned, she was married to somebody who was also working for CIA. And he was really on the fast track. He became chief of station in Vienna, right after the war. That was a really pivotal job because of where Vienna was located, the number of refugees coming through, the number of basically spies, or people looking for information. Vienna was a place where they congregated, so it was a very influential station at the time. And he was chief of station. And also CIA had an anti-nepotism policy, which probably was instituted for all the right reasons. But it had the effect in the case of Cordelia's life of meaning that she and her husband couldn't really work, they were, they were not on a on an equal footing. She ended up going on contract status so that she could continue working, but not be working under him. She she was in a different branch. And also, so that she was free to move whenever he had, he was promoted to a different city or a different location. So and as Cordelia confessed to me, she and her husband never really had an honest heart to heart about whose career would take precedence. It was just assumed that his career would, and it did. And CIA was very male dominated at the time. I think women have made a lot of progress in the agency now. But at the time, there was no woman in the top echelon. And the there was just a mindset that it was a man's job and not a woman's job. And I think Cordelia faced a lot of that, despite the fact that she had the experience, the intellect, the analytical ability, the soft skills, the people skills that she needed. She just it was just a really an uphill battle.

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:35  
So I was thinking as I was reading your book that if you hadn't gone looking for these women to write about, we wouldn't have these stories. You know, the stories existed obviously, their families knew them, but but we wouldn't have these stories. They wouldn't be in writing. And so I guess I wonder, you know what, what else we might be missing out there if you've reflected on that at all. You know what, what other amazing women, what other amazing stories might we not have just because nobody has thought to go looking for them and has written them down yet? And you know what, what you might encourage other people to be thinking about and doing before we lose another generation of people whose stories aren't written?

Kathleen C. Stone  40:20  
Oh, that's a wonderful question. And I guess it gets to why I chose these particular women and who else I might have interviewed, or who else's stories I might have written. There's a couple of categories that I would like to capture, if I were going to do part two of the book. One would be women in the military. And women were not serving in combat positions until very recently. But there were women in the military, many of them came up in the nursing ranks. But I would, I would love to have more of those stories. I would also love to hear more from women who are not in professional jobs, like the ones I focused on. But who were in more vocational jobs. There are women who climbed telephone poles to install wires, there are women who drive trucks. There are women who do a lot of those kinds of jobs. Although they probably weren't doing them in the 1940s and 50s. But they are doing them now. And I would love to know more about those women, because those are definitely male dominated types of jobs. So that's, that's something else I wish I had done, could do. Maybe I will.

Kelly Therese Pollock  41:41  
Well, Kathleen, it's an incredible book. I think people you know, we're given a taste of Cordelia's life. But there's seven of these women with these amazing stories. So tell people how they can get the book.

Kathleen C. Stone  41:52  
Oh, sure. It's available on all, you know, online sources. If somebody goes to my website, they'll see the links there. And the website is

Kelly Therese Pollock  42:09  
Excellent. And I will put a link in the show notes as well. Is there anything else that you wanted to make sure we talked about?

Kathleen C. Stone  42:17  
I guess I would make a note about the subtitle of the book. The title is "They Called Us Girls," but the subtitle is "Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men." And the word ambition, I think is can be a loaded term. But one thing about these particular women is yes, they had ambition. And they had drive. And they had parents who stood behind them. They had all kinds of things going for them. But they helped me re-think what ambition means and it doesn't they were not reaching for fame or fortune. They were looking to use their talents in in a serious, conscientious way. And that's what they did, all of them, in their careers. And in that way, I think these women's stories helped me re-think what ambition means. And I think it's in that sense, it's only it's only a positive. There shouldn't be anything derogatory about the word ambition at all. These women really proved that to me. So that would that's my sort of final thought about one of the things that the book did for me is it sort of enlarged my own thinking as I worked on it.

Kelly Therese Pollock  43:33  
Yeah, I love in the the last story, the federal judge. So she's a federal judge and says, "I wasn't ambitious." Right. Okay. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Kathleen. This was a really fun conversation, and I really, really enjoyed your book.

Kathleen C. Stone  43:53  
Well, thank you so much. I've enjoyed talking to you, and it's been an honor to be on your show.

Teddy  44:00  
Thanks for listening to Unsung History. You can find the sources used for this episode To the best of our knowledge, all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on Twitter, or Instagram @unsung__history, or on Facebook @UnsungHistorypodcast. To contact us with questions or episode suggestions, please email Kelly@UnsungHistory If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review and tell your friends.

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Kathleen C. StoneProfile Photo

Kathleen C. Stone

Kathleen Stone is the author of They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men.

Kathleen studied art history at Oberlin College, and holds a JD from Boston University School of Law and an MFA from Bennington College. As a lawyer, she was a law clerk to a federal district court judge, a litigation partner in a law firm, senior counsel in a financial institution, and a solo practitioner. She taught seminars on American law in six foreign countries as a Fulbright Senior Specialist and through the Center for International Legal Studies.

After many years practicing law and writing countless legal briefs, she turned to other sorts of writing. Her reviews of recent books and art exhibitions have been published in Ploughshares and Arts Fuse. Other work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Pangyrus, The Timberline Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. She also co-hosts Booklab, a literary salon.

Kathleen and her husband live in a brick row house in Boston and a converted bait shack on a dock in mid-coast Maine.