Louvinia Jordan

Louvinia Jordan was born on a farm in Ether, North Carolina, in 1922. She worked in the garden and took care of her family’s animals such as a guinea pig and a pet squirrel. Jordan’s father, Cornelius Vanderbilt Kerns, was a farmer and gifted mathematician who passed many of his skills to his children. In high school Jordan won a scholarship to Elon College, where she was studying Home Economics when the United States entered World War II.

She interviewed for a job with the Signal Corps, which manages communication systems for the U.S. Military. The Corps transferred her to Washington, D.C., where she passed the exam to become a cryptographic clerk. Known as “codebreakers,” the clerks were mostly women who worked in a top secret office at Arlington Hall Station, a former girl’s school in Virginia. Their duties were to find patterns or sequences in messages intercepted from the Japanese and pass them to the military officials in charge. Jordan made $1,902.00 a year and worked alongside women who had attended Howard University and Vassar College. Jordan later took a job with the Veterans Administration.

After the war she married James Jordan, a veteran of the war in the Pacific, and worked as a bookkeeper for the Wilson Daily Times newspaper in Wilson, North Carolina. She moved to Rome, Georgia, to be close to her daughter after her husband died. She joined the Rome chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association in 2010.

Childhood in Ether

Editor's note: Louvinia Jordan was born in the house that her father, Cornelius Vanderbilt Kern, built with his brothers. "My father and his brother built. They cut the timber off of the farm, and dressed it, and built the old house. And…

College Education

"Well, my daddy helped the math teacher in high school, because he did not know math. He was a smart man but didn't know math. And he'd tell my brother, 'take this home and get your daddy to work it and bring it back in the…

Wartime Job with the Signal Corps

"Well, I went to Raleigh, and they interviewed me. And then I got a job. And I went to Washington and I took the exam until I was too dumb to learn. But they thought I was smart. And they put me out to work. And I did like math problems. My…

Codebreaking

Editor's note: Louvinia Jordan scored in the top sixth on the test to join the Signal Corps. "They thought I was smart because I did that... I was shocked.... A lot of math. ‘Cause my work was all in math. They just hit what I knew on…

Arlington Hall Station

"It was at Arlington Station which used to be a girls' school. It was just a big old open room with desks kind of like this (makes sweeping gesture with hand), and we sat there and did work all day. Eight hours. But we had 45 minutes for…

Marriage and Family

Editor's note: Louvinia Jordan dated her future husband, James Randolph Jordan, for about a year before marrying him. Well, I met my husband after I left the Signal Corps. I moved – I worked for the VA for a while with medical records... And…

James Jordan's Wartime Service

"But he was also sitting out on the water when they raised the flag on Iwo. Out in-- on the carrier. Half of the carrier medics went to the shore. Half of them were killed. And then after the war – after they raised the flag, he went and…

Joining the American Rosie the Riveter Association

"Well, I knew about the Riveters all the time when it first started, but I didn't think I'd qualify because it said 'riveters,' but I didn't rivet. I did none of that kind of work. What I did was not really a…
Watch Louvinia Jordan's Legacy Series videos here.