Tue, 08/19/2008

The Many Layers of Julia Child

The National Women's History Museum exhibit, Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage, highlights the story of an unlikely operative, Julia Child.

It has recently been brought to light that decades before becoming a famous chef, Julia Child, in 1944, worked for the OSS. She helped the U.S. spy agency develop shark repellent, used to combat German U-boats during World War II.

The exhibit can be seen at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.

Julia Child was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on June 25, 1999

From Part 1 of her Archive interview: “The OSS began to recruit people to go to the Far East. And I knew eventually I’d get to Europe, at that point I’d only been to Tijuana, and I was anxious to go to Europe some time, but I knew I’d probably never get to the Far East, so I volunteered. And again, the only thing open was in the files. So, I went, I joined up and we had a long ocean voyage. We all met in Long Beach, California. It was said we were not supposed to tell anyone where we were going or what we were doing and it was all so secret. And then we got to this departure thing and there was a great big sign on it saying U.S. Military Departure for the Far East. And we went, there were, I think we had twelve women going over to join the OSS detachment, and we, all twelve in a cabin for two, sailed to, by way of Australia, to India, and we got off at Bombay. I remember sitting out in the harbor at dawn, this kind of mist and you could smell this strange kind of odor of incense and I don’t know what. It was, and I thought, gosh, what have I got myself into here.”

Click here to access Julia Child’s entire Archive interview.