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 Elizebeth <I>Smith</I> Friedman

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Elizebeth Smith Friedman

Birth
Huntington, Huntington County, Indiana, USA
Death 3 Nov 1980 (aged 88)
Plainfield, Union County, New Jersey, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 8, Grave 6379
Memorial ID 25154231 · View Source
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Wife of William F. Friedman, COL US Army

New York Times, The (NY) - November 3, 1980
Deceased Name: E.S. FRIEDMAN, 88, CRYPTANALYST WHO BROKE ENEMY CODES, DIES
Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a cryptographer who helped decipher codes used by enemies of the United States in both World Wars and who aided in the solution of international drug and liquor smuggling cases, died Friday at Abbott Manor, a home for the elderly in Plainfield, N.J. She was 88 years old.

At various times, Mrs. Friedman was employed by the Treasury, the United States Army, the United States Navy and the International Monetary Fund. Her husband, Lieut. Col. William Friedman, who died in 1969, was head of the Army's Cryptanalysis Bureau, responsible for breaking the "Purple Code," which was used by Japanese diplomats before and during World War II.

Mrs. Friedman began her career in cryptography in 1916, at the 500-acre Riverbank estate of George Fabyan in Geneva, Ill. Mr. Fabyan, a textile merchant, had established a center for code analysis that was taken over by the Government in 1917 for a training school in military cryptography.

At the Fabyan Laboratory, she was involved in breaking codes used by enemies of the Allies in World War I. She also met her husband-tobe at the laboratory, where he was working in genetics research, and they spent their early married years there.

Broke Bootleggers' Code

After leaving Riverbank for Washington with her husband in 1921, Mrs. Friedman was an assistant cryptanalyst for the War Department in 1921-22 and a cryptanalyst for the Navy in 1923.

During Prohibition, she was called upon to break complex radio codes used by rum runners in offshore operations that had stymied law-enforcement agencies.

The Canadian Government enlisted her help in 1937 to crack a complicated code used in opium-smuggling operations by a Chinese gang headed by Gordon Lim. She succeeded, although she knew no Chinese, and Mr. Lim and four others were convicted on her testimony.

Her code-breaking prowess proved crucial in solving the "Doll Woman Case" in 1944. The incident involved Velvalee Dickinson, a dealer of antique dolls in New York City who was convicted of spying for the Japanese Government.

Honored by Alma Mater

Mrs. Friedman, the youngest of nine children of a wealthy dairyman, was born in Huntington, Ind. She attended Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio, and graduated from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., where she majored in English. She was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Hillsdale in 1938.

She and her husband wrote "The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined," disputing the argument that Sir Francis Bacon had written the sonnets and plays of William Shakespeare.

Mrs. Friedman spent her retirement years compiling a bibliography of her husband's work for presentation to the George C. Marshall Research Library in Lexington, Va.

She is survived by a son, John, of Plainfield, N.J.; a daughter, Barbara Atchison of Berkeley, Calif., and five grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 7 P.M. at the Cosmos Club in Washington. She is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, at her husband's gravesite.


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  • Created by: John Michael
  • Added: 9 Mar 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25154231
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elizebeth Smith Friedman (26 Aug 1892–3 Nov 1980), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25154231, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by John Michael (contributor 46848992) .