What do Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and famous chef Julia Child have in common? They were spies for the United States during World War II!

Julia, Justice Goldberg, Mo Berg and many others served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services – the OSS – which was an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt. Until now, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States had been “a secret.”

When Julia met her future husband, Paul Child, they were working for the OSS in the 1940’s in Ceylon, which is present day Sri Lanka. She had hoped to be a spy when she joined the agency during World War II but was relegated to “clerical work.” Hm.

Child’s “secret” time at the agency was discussed in dozens of articles as she gained fame as a chef. Her time there was also documented in the 1998 book by Elizabeth McIntosh, “Sisterhood of Spies.” There were prominent references to her service in the OSS in obituaries that ran of her in both the Boston Globe and the New York Times after her death in August 2004. Even the CIA talked about Julia being in the OSS on it’s website in 2007.

The National Archives, which this week released the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives. Not light reading I imagine but excerpts I am certain could be quite fascinating!

So who were these 24,000 spies? They were soldiers, actors, historians, lawyers, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several years during World War II, they were known simply as the OSS. They studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops.

The CIA fought releasing OSS records for decades – no surprise. But former CIA Director William Casey, who was an OSS veteran himself, set into motion the transfer of millions of OSS documents to the National Archives when he took over the agency in 1981. The personnel files are the latest to be made public.

Information about OSS involvement was so guarded that relatives often couldn’t confirm a family member’s work with the group. However with stories handed down through the decades, many relatives suspected as much.

Other people in the spy files included: historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. film actor Sterling Hayden, the Teddy Roosevelt children – Quentin and Kermit, father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the band The Police, Ernest Hemmingway’s son John,…

…and we “suspect” my grandfather’s oldest brother, Ethan.





Julia Child making Omelettes Video