Cryptologic Bytes

"On This Date in History" Calendar

1892: Elizebeth Smith Friedman Birth Date

Monday, August 26, 2024

26 August 1892: American cryptologic pioneer Elizebeth Smith Friedman was born. Photo is from The George C. Marshall Foundation.

Elizebeth Friedman was inducted into the NSA Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 1999. Read the full Hall of Honor entry about her impressive career and unique list of accomplishments via the link below.

You can also learn more about Ms. Friedman on our "Female Pioneers in Cryptology and Related Fields" page - to include articles and books written about her life and career. See the link below.

From the Hall of Honor:

Elizebeth Smith Friedman--wife, mother, writer, Shakespeare enthusiast, cryptanalyst, and pioneer in U.S. cryptology--died on 31 October 1980 in Plainfield, New Jersey, at the age of 88. Although she is often referred to as the wife of William Friedman, she enjoyed many successes in cryptology in her own right and has been dubbed "America's first female cryptanalyst." In fact, although her husband is credited with numerous contributions to cryptology, it was Mrs. Friedman who introduced him to the field......

Although Mrs. Friedman worked closely with her husband William as part of a team, many of her contributions to cryptology were unique. She deciphered many encoded messages throughout the Prohibition years and solved many notable cases single-handedly, including some codes which were written in Mandarin Chinese. As has been determined, the complexity or difficulty mattered not. After fifty years at her business, Elizebeth Smith Friedman had indeed proved to be a pioneer in code breaking.

To further commemorate the contributions of the Friedmans, NSA's OPS1 building was dedicated as the William and Elizebeth Friedman Building during the Agency's 50th Anniversary Commemoration in 2002.


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