Elizebeth Smith Friedman, 1892-1980
Location: Memorial Park, 1120 W. Park Dr. Huntington (Huntington County), Indiana 46750
Installed 2021 Indiana Historical Bureau, City of Huntington, Indiana University, Justin Troutman, Jason Fagone, Tim Dierks, and Family and Friends of Elizebeth Friedman
Pioneering cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman was born in Huntington. She developed her skill in codebreaking while searching for supposed hidden messages in Shakespeare’s plays at Riverbank Laboratories in Illinois in the 1910s. There, she and her husband William invented new techniques for modern cryptology and taught U.S. military officers how to break codes in WWI.
During the 1920s-1930s, Friedman destroyed crime rings by breaking the codes of Prohibition rum runners and international drug smugglers. She led and trained the U.S. Coast Guard’s cryptanalytic unit, vital to the U.S. Navy and FBI. In WWII, she decrypted Nazi radio messages sent to their spies in South America, helping capture the agents and weaken the Axis alliance.
Women; Science, Medicine, and Invention; Education and Library; Military