Xerox 2440 Herbert O. Yardley, American Black Chamber

Publisher: U.S. Army Adjutant General
Date: August 26, 1931

Physical Description:

Xerox copy of selected portions of AG 388.3 (8-26-31) (C) (1926-39) Box 81

Subject: Interwar, Cryptology

Miscellaneous papers on Herbert O. Yardley and his publication of The American Black Chamber.
August 26, 1931 to September 26, 1932


  • Acting Secretary of State to Acting Secretary of War, 26 Aug 31. Requests views of WD on publication in Japan of Herbert O. Yardley’s Book, The Black Chamber.
  • Acting CofS G-2 Smith to CofS, 28 Aug 31. Letter from Acting Secretary of State regarding disclosures made in Yardley’s book.
  • Acting Sec War F.H. Payne to SecState, 1 Sep 31. From 1 Oct 1919 to 31 Oct 1929 a branch office of the Military Intelligence Dept was operating in New York City for the purpose of “permanent organization for code and cipher investigation and attack”. Mr. Yardley, then a Capt and later Major, was in charge of that office.
  • Edwin Neville, Counselor of Embassy, Japan to SecState, No. 284, 28 Jul 31. The publication of articles on disclosures made in Yardley’s book has caused considerable sensation in Japan.
    • Enclosure 1 – Tokyo Newspaper, Nichi Nichi, 22 Jul 31. “The question of disclosure of Japan’s cipher telegrams”
    • Enclosure 2 – The Japan Advertiser, Tokyo, 19 Jul 31. “Yardley book stirs officials’ interest”
    • Enclosure 3 – The Japan Chronicle, Kobe, 19 Jul 31. “Giving it all away”
    • Enclosure 4 – The Japan Chronicle, Kobe, 19 Jul 31. “The Mainichi tells a story, translated elsewhere, of the systematic decipherment by the Washington Government of diplomatic code messages”
    • Enclosure 5 – The Osaka Mainichi, Osake, 19 Jul 31. “Did America know Nippon secret code during Washington Parley?”
    • Enclosure 6 – The Japan Times, Tokyo, 22 Jul 31. “Yardley’s book cause sensation in official circles”
    • Enclosure 7 – The Japan Times, Tokyo, 22 Jul 31. “American Espionage”
  • Acting CofS to TAG, 13 Sept 32. Mr. Herbert O. Yardley. SecWar directs a secret letter be sent to CG 5th Corps Area directing him to designate an officer of Regular Army to contact Mr. Herbert O. Yardley in Worthington, Indiana and verbally notify him in presence of two military witnesses that he deliver all documents and copies set forth in his boot between pages 43 and 49 and 168 and 169 to the Adjutant General, Washington, D.C.
  • AG, Washington to CG 5th Corps Area, 13 Sep 32. Letter described above. 1st Ind designates Col. Oliver P. Robinson to carry out instructions. 2nd Ind states Capt. Frank Barber and Capt. E.C. Adkins certify they were at Worthington, Indiana with Col. Robinson and carried out the service on Mr. Yardley. Give statement Yardley asked him to transmit. Wants to talk matter over with TAG.
  • Acting CofS Smith to Acting CofS, 22 Sept 32. Talked to Assistant AG Nugent Doffs who drew up the form of the demand and he stated that since the demand has been served that no other action was proposed at this time. Mr. Yardley must make the move to talk to TAG himself if he so wished.
  • SGS Severson to TAG, 26 Sep 32. ACofS directed papers be filed for future reference.

Digital Downloads

Xerox 2440



Location: Vault
Call No. Xerox 2440

Language: english