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At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Unknown [Printed secret codes, nomenclator]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01450.601 Author/Creator: Unknown Place Written: s.l. Type: Document Date: circa. 1781 Pagination: 2 p. ; 46 x 58.5 cm.

The document is printed and handwritten on both sides. One side is typeset with various words beginning with each letter of the alphabet and the other side is printed with numbers 1-1700 in chronological order. The handwritten notes next to each word or number corresponds as a coded translation of the word or number. Accompanied by a note written by Elizabeth Steele of England's National Army Museum Department of Books and Archives. Steele writes "These documents were on loan to the National Army Museum and have now been returned to their owner Mrs F. J. E. Britnell. They were stamped while in our possession." The note is written on National Army Museum stationery, dated 30 October 1968. The document matches exactly to a nomenclator sheet designed and commissioned for printing by Robert A. Livingston, US Secretary of Foreign Affairs between the years of 1781 and 1783. The code sheet would be used for encrypting letters containing sensitive political information. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were all known to have used the same print of this code sheet, albeit with a different assignment of numbers to words. Thomas Jefferson's copy is found in the Library of Congress. Unknown author of the handwriting.

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