Marshall and His Legacy

GCMF-legacy-logo-webOn the eve of completing the Marshall Papers, we have begun a significant, new initiative, the George C. Marshall Legacy Series, to interpret General Marshall’s legacy for an audience of broad interests. The Series is expected to last two years or longer. Programs and activities will focus on key themes, events or episodes from General Marshall’s career and the extensive holdings in the Foundation’s archives.

Because General Marshall’s career touched on nearly every major event of the first half of the 20th Century, the landscape for the Legacy Series is rich and vast. The Foundation staff will access our resources and collections to create unique activities and events to share with the public. Beginning projects, each lasting about three months, will include Codebreaking, “Weapons” of War, and Taking Care of the Troops.

To kick off the Series, the Foundation, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will hold an afternoon program on April 23 to discuss William Friedman, who is considered to be the codebreaking pioneer in the United States in the 20th century.

As head codebreaker for the U.S. War Department, Friedman led a team that broke the Japanese diplomatic code known as PURPLE in 1940. General Marshall later described the intelligence provided by Friedman and his cryptologists as “contributing greatly to the victory and tremendously to the saving of American lives…and…the early termination of the war.” Col. Friedman continued his work after the war in government signals intelligence and became the head cryptologist of the NSA. Upon his retirement from NSA in 1955, he donated his personal papers to the Marshall Foundation where they have resided since 1969.

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Bill Sherman

With the declassification and release of Friedman’s professional papers on April 23 and their availability through the Foundation, we will have the most complete and comprehensive set of Friedman materials as part of one of the most important private collections of cryptologic material worldwide.

During the evening of April 23, Bill Sherman, who is head of research at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the curator of the Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition on “Decoding the Renaissance,” will talk about codes, codebreaking and ciphers. His talk, which will be free to members of the Foundation, titled “From the Cipher Disk to the Enigma Machine: 500 Years of Cryptography,” will be followed by a reception. Current members must show their membership cards on arrival. Non-members will be admitted on a space-available basis after paying a $15 admission fee. Call Leigh McFaddin at 463-7103, ext. 138 to reserve a seat.

A new exhibition on the Friedmans and Codebreaking, “Partners in Code: William and Elizebeth Friedman,” will be open as well.

Visit the Legacy Series pages on our website to see the full list of events and activities in the Codebreaking sequence.