Elizabeth Smith was born in Huntington, Indiana back in 1892 to John and Sopha. From 1911 to 1913 she attended the University of Wooster in Ohio, but left due to her mother’s illness. Once she got back home she attended Hillsdale College in Michigan graduating with a major in English literature. She studied Latin, Greek and German languages.
After graduation, she was hired as a substitute principal at a public high school in Wabash, Indiana resigning with less than one year at that position. She found work at the Riverbank Laboratories in Geneva, Illinois. With the outbreak of WWI, she worked with the United States Army’s Cipher Bureau MI8. It was there that she met and married William and for the next four years they worked together. In 1921, they moved to Washington, D.C. working for the War Department.
After the war, she worked for the U.S. Treasury Department breaking the codes that bootleggers used to prevent smuggling of drugs and bootleg liquor. During the rest of her career she helped the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Government break the codes of smugglers. Her team remained the primary code breakers during WWII.
What you may not know about Elizabeth Smith Friedman is that she is known as the first female cryptanalyst..
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