The Cryptologic History Symposium is a prestigious program showcasing speakers recognized as cryptologic authorities from around the world. The theme and agenda topics for the Symposium attract the interest of scholars, professionals, and the public.
NCF and the NSA Center for Cryptologic History (CCH)
The Foundation and the NSA Center for Cryptologic History (CCH) co-host the biennial Cryptologic History Symposium, and the Foundation provides support to the CCH History Research Program. In 2003, then DIRNSA, General Michael V. Hayden, requested support from the then NCMF for the 2003 Symposium. Since then the Foundation and CCH have teamed up to co-host a unique biennial event that attracts international attention from academia and the Intelligence Community. Learn about the mission and programs of the Center for Cryptologic History.
Next Symposium - May 8-10, 2024
Call for Papers
The Center for Cryptologic History (CCH) and the National Cryptologic Foundation (NCF) invite proposals for papers and posters to be presented at the 19th Cryptologic History Symposium on May 8-10, 2024. The Symposium will be held in-person at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab Kossiakoff Center in Laurel, Maryland on Wednesday, May 8 – Thursday, May 9, 2024. Following the Symposium, attendees will be given an opportunity to tour the recently renovated National Cryptologic Museum on Friday, May 10, 2024 and learn about resources available through the National Cryptologic Museum Library. Attendees may also want to consider attending the NCF general membership meeting which will precede the Symposium at the Kossiakoff Center on Tuesday May 7, 2024.
The CCH and the NCF reserve the right to modify or cancel the Cryptologic History Symposium, including a hybrid in-person/virtual event, or an all-virtual platform with a potentially abbreviated program if warranted.
See below for full details or download a PDF of the Call for Papers.
The theme for the 2024 Cryptologic History Symposium is “Engage the Past – Educate the Future.” From antiquity to the present, rigorous scholarship and technological innovation have advanced the science and art of cryptology. This rich heritage is told through stories of the people, technology, and events that have propelled cryptologic history and catalyzed innovation. Their stories can provide context to past events, a better understanding of the present, and a path toward a more secure future.
All topics relevant to the history and application of cryptology are welcome, and in particular its intersection with signals intelligence, cybersecurity, technological innovation, and national security. An interdisciplinary approach is encouraged, as are submissions from those who are new to the field,
including students. A broad perspective will ensure the variety and diversity of exchange that has been a tradition of this symposium.
Proposals MUST be unclassified. Those who have a lifetime obligation of prepublication review are responsible for ensuring their proposals and associated presentation/posters have had the appropriate reviews. Proposals for single presentations or full panels (two to four speakers) are welcome. CCH staff will form panels from single presentations with the goal of putting like topics together. Presenters should be prepared to speak for approximately 15-20 minutes; proposals for a longer time slot should include a strong justification and will be considered, but not guaranteed.
Proposal packages should include the following:
- A title
- An abstract of no more than 500 words
- The amount of time required for the presentation; if longer than 20 minutes, please provide a
- justification (not applicable for poster presentations)
- A biographical sketch of the speaker(s) of no more than 150-words, which will be used in the
- published program
- Full contact details of the speaker(s) (address, email, telephone number)
- Optional, but encouraged for speakers new to the symposium: A CV or resume for the speaker(s) that includes relevant publications and presentations
Please submit your proposals by September 5, 2023 to CCH via email or mail:
Address: Center for Cryptologic History (CCH), Suite 6886 ATTN: Symposium Committee, 9800 Savage Road, Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755
Proposals received after September 5, 2023 will be considered on a space-available basis. CCH will notify you about the final status of your proposal by December 8, 2023, but may contact you for discussion before that date. If accepted, all slide decks and other technology requirements must be submitted to CCH by April 26, 2024.
Purpose of the Symposium
Since 1990, the Cryptologic History Symposium has served as an opportunity to present historical scholarship found in unclassified and declassified cryptologic records and engage in discussion about their significance to history. The event is an occasion for historians and those interested in history to gather for reflection and debate on relevant and important topics from the cryptologic past. Regular speakers include historians from CCH, the Intelligence Community, the defense establishment, the military services, scholars from American and international academic institutions, veterans of the cryptologic profession, graduate and undergraduate students, and noted authors. Past symposia have featured scholarship that set out new ways to consider our cryptologic heritage. The conference provides many opportunities to interact with leading historians and other experts. The mix of practitioners, scholars, and interested observers guarantees a lively debate that promotes an enhanced appreciation for past events.
The theme for the 18th Cryptologic History Symposium, held May 11-12, 2022, was “Icons and Innovation.”
In today’s world of high-tech cryptology, artificial intelligence, and cyber security, it is easy to forget that behind every new technological development are people who conceived of, built, and continuously improved upon the tools and technologies available today. The stories of these people provide us with lessons, insights, and inspiration. Many have already become icons in cryptology, but there are others whose stories have yet to be told. Innovation, the introduction of something new or a new idea, method, or device has been the hallmark of cryptology for centuries. The stories of both successful, and unsuccessful, cryptologic innovations can provide context to past events, a better understanding of the present, and a path toward a more secure future.
The 2022 Cryptologic History Symposium was held virtually via Microsoft Teams Live Events. Please click below to see the Final Program with links to videos.
The theme for the 17th biennial Symposium on Cryptologic History on October 17-18, 2019 was "From Discovery to Discourse." Since 1990, the Symposium on Cryptologic History has served as an opportunity to present historical discoveries found in unclassified and declassified Intelligence Community records and engage in scholarly discussion about their significance to cryptologic history. The 2019 Symposium program offered over 20 educational sessions led by over 65 speakers. Topics included cryptologic history related to World War I and II, the Cold War, communications security, cyberspace and technology, international and diplomatic relations, counterintelligence and espionage, declassification and public engagement, and more.
The theme for the 2017 Symposium was "Milestones, Memories, and Momentum." There were many milestones to mark in 2017: the 160th anniversary of the first attempt to span the Atlantic with a telegraph cable, 100 years since both the entry of the United States into World War I and the Russian October Revolution, and 75 years after the World War II battles of Coral Sea and Midway. The Symposium took place in October 2017, just a few months before the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and during the 25th year after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
The theme for the 2015 Symposium was “A Century of Cryptology.” As we mark the centenary years of World War I (1914–1918), when so many significant advancements occurred in the field of cryptology, we examine the impact cryptologists made throughout the twentieth century, especially during such periods as World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and the post-Cold War era. The Symposium included panels that look at the foundations of cryptology before the “Great War.”
The theme for the 2013 Symposium was "Technologic Change and Cryptography: Meeting the Historical Challenge." The keynote address was given by Mr. Chris Inglis, then Deputy Director of NSA. Present at the Symposium were scholars from around the world and the presentations were wide ranging. Examples include: Intelligence Preparation for the Next War, Cipher Systems and Methods, Cryptology as Musical Entertainment, Cryptology in the Ancient World, Bletchley Park Celebrated, and COMINT and the Civil War.