Gene Grabeel

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Gene Grabeel
Born(1920-06-05)June 5, 1920
DiedJanuary 30, 2015(2015-01-30) (aged 94)
Alma materMars Hill College
Farmville State Teachers College
Known forThe Venona project
Scientific career
InstitutionsSignal Intelligence Service

Gene Grabeel (June 5, 1920 – January 30, 2015) was an American mathematician and cryptanalyst who founded the Venona project.


Grabeel graduated from Mars Hill College and Farmville State Teachers College and initially worked as a high school home economics teacher. [1] In his book Code Warriors: NSA's Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union, Stephen Budiansky describes how she came into the opportunity to work as a U.S. government cryptanalyst:

Gene Grabeel ... was teaching high school near Lynchburg in central Virginia and dissatisfied with her job when she met a young Army officer in the post office who was looking for college graduates to go work at an undisclosed location near Washington, to do a job he could not offer any details about. ... Grabeel had been thinking about trying to get a job with the federal government and asked her father what he thought of the idea. He told her she might as well "go to Washington for six months and shuffle papers." She was off to the capital as soon as she found a replacement teacher to take over for her.

— Stephen Budiansky (2016)[2]

In 1936, Grabeel began her 36-year career with the Signal Intelligence Service. On February 1, 1943, she founded the Venona project, a counterintelligence program aimed at decrypting Soviet communications.[2][3][4][5] She and others spent months sifting through stored and incoming Soviet telegrams.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Grabeel was born in Rose Hill, Virginia on June 5, 1920. She attended Blackstone Baptist Church. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and of the 17th Century Colonial Dames.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

After the 1995 declassification of the Venona project, Grabeel was recognized by the Central Intelligence Agency as an "American Hero". Grabeel died at age 94 on January 30, 2015 in Blackstone, Virginia. [1]


  1. ^ a b c "GRABEEL, GENE". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  2. ^ a b Budiansky, Stephen (2016-06-14). Code Warriors: NSA's Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780385352673.
  3. ^ Pincock, Stephen (2006), Codebreaker: The History of Secret Communication, Bloomsbury, p. 122, ISBN 9780802715470
  4. ^ Kilian, Michael (1995-07-12). "50-year Secret: How U.S. Broke Soviet A-bomb Spies' Code". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  5. ^ Benson, Robert L. "The Venona Story" (PDF). National Security Agency. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  6. ^ "Venona: Soviet Espionage and The American Response 1939-1957 -- Preface". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2018-01-18.

External links[edit]