Elizebeth Smith Friedman Collection
One of the twentieth century’s leading cryptologists, Elizebeth Smith Friedman was born on August 26, 1892 in Huntington, Indiana. Elizebeth grew up in Huntington on her parent’s farm before leaving to attend Wooster College in 1913. Following two years at Wooster, Elizebeth transferred to Hillsdale College to be closer to her ailing mother where she completed a BA in 1915. While in college the young Elizebeth became engrossed in the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy over the authorship of Shakespearean works. She took a job with Mrs. Elizabeth Wells Gallop in Geneva, Illinois at the Riverbank Laboratories owned by Colonel George Fabyan to work on deciphering this literary mystery. It was at Riverbank that Elizebeth met her future husband, William F. Friedman, who was working as a geneticist at the time. The couple married on May 21, 1917.
During the First World War, the Friedmans acted as directors of an unofficial code-breaking team employed by the National Government. In 1920 the Friedmans moved to Washington, D.C. where Mrs. Friedman took a post with the War Department. She later worked for the Department of the Navy, the Treasury Department, where she helped break smugglers’ codes during Prohibition and acted as a narcotics agent in the 1930s, and the International Monetary Fund in the 1940s. Elizebeth Friedman died on October 31, 1980 in North Plainsfield, New Jersey at the age of 88.
The Friedman Collection: An Analytical Guide is a painstakingly thorough inventory researched and written by Virginia Military Institute Professor Rose Mary Sheldon.