World War II US Navy Specialist Arm Patch


This machine-embroidered cloth arm patch was worn around 1944 by a US Navy Specialist I, Third Class. Navy Specialist is a rating that refers to an enlisted sailor's job specialty and the letter I inside the diamond indicates that the sailor who wore this patch had been trained to be a machine operator for a punch-card accounting machine, an electric accounting machine, or a tabulating machine. The single red chevron below the diamond indicates that the specialist's rate, or pay grade, was equivalent to that of a Petty Officer Third Class.

Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992), a mathematician who became a naval officer and computer scientist during World War II, donated this patch to the Smithsonian. Hopper joined the U.S. Naval Reserves in December 1943. From July 1944 she worked with the Navy’s Computation Project at Harvard University’s Cruft Laboratory writing computer code for the Mark I computer, formally known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator.

Similar patches (with white background) are shown on World War II images of specialists working on the Computation Project. Hopper herself had been commissioned a lieutenant (junior grade) before she was assigned to the project, so she would not have worn this patch.

Date Made: ca 1944

Location: Currently not on view

Web Subject: U. S. NavySubject: Women's History


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Women Mathematicians, Computers & Business Machines


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Grace Murray Hopper

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1989.0093.02Accession Number: 1989.0093Catalog Number: 1989.0093.02

Object Name: arm patch

Physical Description: cloth (overall material)Measurements: overall: .1 cm x 6.2 cm x 8.2 cm; 1/32 in x 2 7/16 in x 3 7/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1214093

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.