The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Dorothy Fenner Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

March 22, 2014


“Home Economist and World War II Code-Breaker”  March 22, 2014  Location: Fenner residence, Saratoga, California.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Fenner discusses her upbringing in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, her decision to attend Oregon State College and her initial impressions upon arriving on campus. She provides extensive detail in recounting her OSC experience, noting her living situation, her academic progression - including the early years of nutrition instruction at the college - the state of the OSC campus in the 1930s, and important social events, such as the Military Ball. She also shares her memories of membership in the Delta Delta Delta sorority, her involvement with the college choir, and various student traditions.

A secondary focus of the session is Fenner's service as a code-breaker with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She describes the process by which she decided to join WAAC, her training in Morse Code, the application of her training to intercepted Japanese signals, and the social environment within WAAC. The interview concludes with Fenner's recollections of post-war life in Corvallis, her continuing involvement with music, and her appreciation of the role that OSU has played in her life.