2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 18, 2019 10:22 AM by Cara Moore Lebonick

    Seeking OSS records for Mary Alez


      My mother--aged 84--says as a girl she had multiple meetings with a great aunt she knew as Mary Alez, who spied on German officers in Paris in WWII, apparently lip-reading to collect intelligence. Mary Alez--her married name; mother can't recall her maiden name--presumably worked for OSS; not SIS or SOE. She was apparently highly respected in the family for her wartime service.


      Mary Alez's maiden name could've been Mills or Paul or Drexel, as mother remembers her as coming from her maternal side of the family. All of the women from that side of the family received excellent educations--either finishing school, boarding school, or university; or a combination thereof. All travelled extensively in Europe and spoke either French, German, or both.


      As such, Mary fit the profile of the female agents recruited for OSS at the time by Bill Donovan.


      It's unlikely that Mary was fibbing about her role as a spy for the Allies in WWII, as both of mother's parents came from high-rolling families with extensive contacts in the East Coast establishment. Her father, for example, was E.B. Smith, of Smith Barney, who was a close personal friend of Secretary of the Navy Forrestal. Mother's Drexel ancestors were also a leading American financial services family, endowoi


      I've Googled Mary Alez, and come up with nothing. How can I best use HistoryHub and the National Archives to research my ancestor?

        • Re: Seeking OSS records for Mary Alez
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Mr. Shober,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled the Personnel Files of the Office of Strategic Services, 1942 - ca. 1962 in the Records of the Office of Strategic Services (Record Group 226) but were unable to locate a file for Mary Alez, Mary Mills, Mary Paul or Mary Dexel. However, we did locate 240 file units for “Mary” in case she used another alias. Please review the list and contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual via email at archives2reference@nara.gov for access to and/or copies of the file unit(s).


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


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          • Re: Seeking OSS records for Mary Alez
            Cara Moore Lebonick Adventurer

            Dear Mr. Shober,


            In addition to the personnel files Ms. Collier listed above, the National Archives at St. Louis holds the archival personnel records of the Department of State, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). We are, sometimes, able to find Official Personnel Folders (OPFs) for employees of the OSS that were not separated into the series Ms. Collier mentioned. Please, feel free to send the information regarding your ancestor to stl.archives@nara.gov in order to request a search of our personnel records. Thanks!




            Cara Moore Lebonick

            Reference Archives Specialist

            National Archives at St. Louis

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