The National Park Service released a new Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan, “The ‘Code Girls’ of Arlington Hall Station: Women Cryptologists of the Second World War.” The lesson details the background of three women who served in the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) in WWII at Arlington Hall Station, including one with Washington Court House connections.
The SIS were part of the US Army Signal Corps, and by the end of the war, approximately 7,000 of the 10,500 staff were female. These home front women were held to secrecy and contributed to the Allied victory by successfully breaking codes and deciphering enemy messages. Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein, Ann Caracristi, and Ada Stemple Nestor are three cryptologists profiled in the lesson in detail.
Ada Stemple Nestor has ties to Washington Court House. Ada was born in 1922 and graduated from high school in Barbour County, West Virginia. She attended Clarksburg Business College and then was recruited by SIS for her time at Arlington Hall Station from 1942-1945. During this time, she was a cryptologist, but without uniform, acting as a “secretary” when going to work in the D.C. area. Women cryptologists were one of the war’s best kept secrets, and key to the Allied victory.
Ada married Edwin Nestor, a US Navy Sailor, in 1944 and left the Washington D.C. area in 1945 to reunite with him, stationed in California. After the war the Nestors lived in West Virginia, and eventually relocated to Washington Court House, Ohio in 1955. The first place they lived together in Washington C.H. was a rear, first-floor apartment in what is today’s Fayette County Museum.
While Edwin worked in the city school district, eventually becoming superintendent, Ada worked in the community over time at the Hotel Washington, Steele Data Processing, and Cortec. In March 2019 Ada was awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Library of Congress and Veterans History Project “for her service to and support of the nation as a World War 2 ‘Code Girl.’”
Although Ada passed in September 2019, her legacy lives on.
Ada and Edwin Nestor raised three children and had six grandchildren. The National Park Service lesson plan was authored by Sarah Nestor Lane, granddaughter to Ada and Edwin (daughter of John Nestor and Amy (Stockwell) Nestor). Lane, an alumnus from Washington High School (2013) is a National Board-certified educator and consultant currently located in Tacoma, WA, with her husband, CPT David Lane (Army). She enjoys partnering with the National Park Service and has other lessons that she has edited or authored to be published soon, but this has been her favorite yet. Lane will continue her work on upcoming NPS curriculum projects, and as a Teacher Ranger Teacher this summer for Jewel Cave National Monument (South Dakota).
As described by the National Park Service, Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lessons such as “The ‘Code Girls’ of Arlington Hall Station: Women Cryptologists of the Second World War,” offer “teaching tools and lesson plans to help educators engage young people with powerful stories representing America’s diverse history. Historic places in National Parks and in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. Historic places offer connections across time, encouraging empathy for the people who shaped our past. Students can connect their own local history with national events and themes. TwHP materials enable teachers and students to learn from places without leaving their learning spaces. By examining and questioning readings, documents, maps, photographs, and by engaging in activities, students connect these locations to broad themes of American history.”
It is a milestone that students nationwide now can learn more about women cryptologists of Arlington Hall Station, including one of Fayette County’s own.
Lesson Link: The ‘Code Girls’ of Arlington Hall Station: Women Cryptologists of the Second World War (Teaching with Historic Places) (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)