Ellen Arlene Smith

Secretary at Ft. Devens in WWII, Worcester Art Museum docent, Music Guild Board Member

"I was married when the war broke out—the Second World War, 1941. And my husband was drafted right away. He left two moths after we were married. And I believe I took various jobs to keep busy. At one point he was stationed at Fort Devens. I was still living on Providence Street with my parents. And at Fort Devens there was a secretarial job open, and I applied for it and got it. I was secretary to the only other Jewish man in the whole firm. And the people who worked there were from Maynard, Mass. I was secretary to this Mr. Shapiro. I remember him."


Ellen A. Smith was born in Worcester and has lived here almost all 92 years of her life. She attended the public schools and Salter’s, where she learned more about shorthand and typing, leading to work as a secretary for Temple Emmanuel and Worcester State College. She married Henry Smith, who joined the army two months after they married. Ellen followed Henry to Fort Devens, where she had a secretarial job, and later visited him where he was stationed in Alexandria, Virginia. Shortly after the birth of their son, Henry was sent overseas and returned two years later, after which they had a second child, a daughter. She has two grandchildren. Ellen considers herself a fashionable woman and seeks clothing stores carrying stylish clothes, which she finds currently lacking in Worcester. She recounts that she has always been treated with respect and never harassed or discriminated against because of her gender. Ellen has been a docent at the Worcester Art Museum and is on the board of the Music Guild, attending many of the concerts at Mechanics Hall. Her hobbies have included modern dancing, enameling on copper, painting, swimming, and horseback riding. A recent leg bone fracture from a fall resulted in her stopping driving, but she looks forward to resuming driving in the very near future.

Interview Date: 
October 26, 2006