While Bletchley Park— the home of the World War II British codebreakers — is a thriving museum these days, the site was once perilously close to collapsing into the forgotten past. Thanks to her persistent blogging efforts and a robust Twitter campaign to raise awareness, the educator and author Dr. Sue Black, (OBE) brought attention to Bletchley Park’s plight and helped get the funding needed to preserve this important part of computer history.
While visiting New York City this week, Dr. Black was kind enough to drop by the Pop Tech Jam microphone and chat about her recent book with Stevyn Colgan, Saving Bletchley Park: How #SocialMedia Saved the Home of the WWII Codebreakers. (You can listen to the episode here.) The book’s chapters weave together 1940s wartime history showing just how important Bletchley’s work was in stopping the Nazis, with Dr. Black’s memories of discovering the crumbling facility in 2003 and the race to save the place before it was too late.
Bletchley Park was also an important milestone for women in technology. Thousands of women were employed there in all kinds of jobs during the war — and some even cracked codes right alongside the men. For those wanting a little more background on the topic (and a working copy of the Adobe Flash plug-in), check out The Women of Station X video created by the British Computer Society‘s women’s networking group, BCSWomen.
Dr. Black, (who is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University College London and a Senior Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge) also shared her experiences with #techmums, a group she founded to help women help themselves through technology.
So, if you like codebreaking, military history, World War II, computer history or want to know more than what was on screen in The Imitation Game or The Bletchley Circle, check out Saving Bletchley Park. And compared to recent times, it’s also a Twitter story with a happy ending. We love those!