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NSA Historical Figures

Ruth Wilson

Ruth Wilson was hired in 1918 as a Spanish linguist for the first peacetime cryptologic service MI-8 better known as the "American Black Chamber." Mrs. Wilson contributed to the team's efforts to break a variety of Spanish codes in use in Central and South America. However she also took it upon herself to attempt to learn Japanese and read the Japanese plaintext messages.

By the time the Black Chamber closed in 1929 Mrs. Wilson was a Japanese linguist and was the highest paid employee other than Herbert Yardley the head of the organization.

She continued her education at Columbia University taking Chinese and Japanese classes and eventually earning her Master's Degree in Far Eastern Affairs in 1947.