NSA Historical Figures

African Americans in Cryptologic History

The experience of African Americans at NSA and its predecessor organization mirrors the African American experience in the United States and the Federal Government in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The first African American hired by the Army Security Agency, and who later made the transition to the Armed Forces Security Agency, worked first in a segregated office. Senior supervisors were white and many of the duties were menial ones not wanted by whites.

In the 1950s, African Americans began to move into the mainstream workforce. The segregated office was abolished and more African Americans received supervisory positions.

Many African Americans advanced to NSA's senior ranks. Many of those who began their careers in the segregated work environment finished at the top of their profession.

For many years it was believed that African Americans had first been hired to work in cryptology only after World War II. Recent research has revealed, however, that the first large-scale hiring program for African Americans began in 1944. By the end of the war, a segregated office of thirty African Americans was engaged in researching messages encrypted in unknown systems, analyzing them, and producing translations.

Read more about our Invisible Cryptologists.



Women in American Cryptology

Although the number of women involved in cryptology has always been lower than the number of men, they have not been completely absent from the field either. Women have always been involved in America's cryptologic history. Some have reached the higher ranks of management and a few have been considered the expert in their field.

Cryptologic pioneers, such as Elizebeth Friedman and Agnes Driscoll, are well known to those who study cryptology. Were it not for their early involvement, the women of today may not have been able to reach their current numbers or status. But not every woman, or their organizations, has made it into the history books. Thousands of lesser-known women cryptologists have also played a role in creating the legacy women enjoy today. Their achievements, and in some cases their escapades, furthered the progress of women in cryptology. Women's involvement was sometimes sporadic, but significant.

The Women in Cryptologic History exhibit at the National Cryptologic Museum highlights the contributions of twenty-four women who have helped create cryptologic history. The display begins with a member of the Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution who used her laundry as a secret code. Women spies from the Civil War also used codes and ciphers to aid those fighting for the causes they believed in. But it wasn't until the twentieth century that women began to work full-time in cryptology. During WWI several women considered to be cryptologic pioneers began their careers, as did some women few people today would know. During WWII thousands of women joined the military or worked as civilians for the military as cryptanalysts, intercept operators, technicians, machinists and every other position available in cryptology. Many of those women chose to stay in the field after the war, providing breakthroughs and contributions throughout the Cold War. Eventually, women rose to the highest ranks of management and today continue to support, develop, and build the cryptologic legacy of tomorrow.

Learn more about how women supported cryptologic efforts in World War II.



Cryptologic Hall of Honor

The Cryptologic Hall of Honor was created in 1999 to pay special tribute to the pioneers and heroes who rendered distinguished service to American cryptology.

The standards are high for induction into this great hall. The individuals honored were innovators over their entire careers or made major contributions to the structure and processes of American cryptology. The men and women who have been inducted to the Cryptologic Hall of Honor are all greats in the once silent world of cryptology.

In the early days of America's cryptologic effort, many of the "giants" did both Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance. They made important contributions to both offensive and defensive cryptology. As such, they were among the first inducted into the Cryptologic Hall of Honor.

Please select the year of the inductee on the left

LTG Ralph J. Canine, USA
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Solomon Kullback
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Abraham Sinkov
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Frank B. Rowlett
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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CAPT Laurance Safford, USN
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Herbert O. Yardley
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Elizebeth S. Friedman
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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William F. Friedman
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Agnes Meyer Driscoll
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort, USN
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Louis W. Tordella
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Maj Gen John E. Morrison, Jr., USAF
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Sydney Jaffe
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Mahlon E. Doyle
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Howard C. Barlow
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Julia Ward
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Charles C. Tevis
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Mitford M. Mathews
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Richard A. Leibler
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Norman Wild
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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CAPT Thomas H. Dyer, USN
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Howard E. Rosenblum
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Juanita Moody
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Lowell K. Frazer
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Lambros D. Callimahos
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Brigadier John Tiltman
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Meredith Gardner
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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James R. Chiles
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dorothy T. Blum
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Rear Admiral Joseph N. Wenger, USN
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Arthur Salemme
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Francis Raven
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. William Blankinship
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Thomas E. Tremain
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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James W. Pryde
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Cecil J. Phillips
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Edward A. Everett
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Brigadier General Bernard Ardisana, USAF
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Milton Zaslow
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Samuel S. Snyder
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Robert J. Hermann
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Jacob Gurin
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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RADM Donald M. Showers, USN (Ret)
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Oliver R. Kirby
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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General Alfred M. Gray, USMC
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Charles L. Gandy
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Benson K. Buffham
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Minnie McNeal Kenny
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Arthur J. Levenson
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Maj Gen Doyle E. Larson, USAF
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Richard A. Day, Jr.
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Leo Rosen
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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David Boak
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Joseph Amato
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Laura Holmes
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Colonel Parker Hitt
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Joseph Desch
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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William Coffee
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Juliana Mickwitz
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Ronald Hunt
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Robert Drake
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Ann Caracristi
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Native American Code Talkers
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Washington Wong
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Richard Proto
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Vera Ruth Filby
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Alan Turing
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Marian Rejewski
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Captain Howard Ehret
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Walter Deeley
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Frank Austin
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Virginia Jenkins Riley
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Robert J. "Mac" McNelis
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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William O. Marks
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Charles R. (Dick) Lord
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Ralph W. Adams, Jr.
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Command Sergeant Major Odell Williams, USA
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Captain Leonard T. Jones, USCG
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Gerald Hale
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Floyd L. Weakley
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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ADM Bobby R. Inman, USN
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Col Frank E. Herrelko, USAF
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dennis M. Chiari
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Mary H. "Polly" Budenbach
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Richard L. “Dick” Bernard
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Seymour R. Cray
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Whitney E. Reed
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Michael J. Jacobs
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Hilda Faust Mathieu
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Edward M. Drake
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Chief Harry Kidder, USN
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Col Alva Bryan Lasswell, USMC
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Lt. Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Lester K. Myers
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Whitfield Diffie
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Barbara A. McNamara
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. David Kahn
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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George R. Cotter
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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