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Press Release | Oct. 27, 2010

National Cryptologic Museum Unveils Dr. David Kahn Collection

FORT MEADE, Md.  –  

FT. Meade, MD - Yesterday, eminent cryptologic historian Dr. David Kahn, was honored at a ceremony at the National Security Agency's (NSA) National Cryptologic Museum (NCM) for the contribution of his collection to the museum library. General Keith B. Alexander, USA, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command/Director, NSA/Chief, CSS, and Mr. John C. Inglis, Deputy Director, NSA, presided at the event where "Dr. David Kahn Collection" was formally introduced to the public.

Dr. Kahn's unique collection includes more than 2,800 books and over 130,000 pages of notes from interviews with hundreds of cryptologic and intelligence personnel, both foreign and American, many now deceased, obtained in the course of research for his many books, such as The Codebreakers. In addition, the collection houses photocopies of rare or unique intelligence documents from foreign and domestic archives and from private collections. Also, there are 55 extremely rare books, such as a copy of the first printed book on cryptology, Johannes Trithemius's Polygraphiae of 1518. The one-of-a-kind items in the Kahn Collection include a telescript of his appearance on the Tonight Show (now on display as part of the NCM's new "Cryptologic Treasures" display) and a typescript of Herbert Yardley's once controversial American Black Chamber.


"David's donation has enriched the library at the Museum immeasurably," said General Alexander. "The materials he has donated will surely inspire and inform future generations of historians, scholars, and students of cryptology, just as his writings have inspired some of his readers to make their careers as cryptologists."

Kahn first started donating his unique collection to the NCM in 2004, when he realized his materials should be preserved for students, scholars, and others interested in the fascinating field of codemaking and codebreaking. The donation makes the NCM library a world center of intelligence studies. As Mr. Eugene Becker, President of the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation (NCMF), stated, "The Museum Library now, perhaps, contains the most significant collection of cryptologic history in the world."

Kahn donated his collection to the NCMF, who, in turn, transferred the items to the museum. The NCMF is a non-profit, independent organization that was founded to help support, enhance, and promote the museum as well as historical contributions cryptology has made in protecting the nation. As part of their support to the Museum, the NCMF regularly finds and passes along valuable cryptologic treasures and artifacts.

A long-time journalist with Newsday in New York, Kahn published his first article on cryptology in the New York Times magazine in 1960. This treatise on William Hamilton Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell, former NSA employees who defected to the Soviet Union, led to a contract to write The Codebreakers, which was published in 1967 and is considered to be the definitive work on the history of cryptology.

Kahn was also honored during a private event held the prior evening at the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) when General Alexander presented him with a bronze medallion.

The National Cryptologic Museum is located adjacent to the NSA/CSS at Ft. Meade, Maryland, and is open to the public. Admission is free. For more information on the Museum, visit the National Cryptologic Museum section of