Easy Indexed Access to Declassified NSA/CSS Documents

The NSA/CSS Declassification Initiatives web page contains the following easily overlooked paragraph:

“An index of 4,923 entries containing approximately 1.3 million pages of previously declassified documents, which have been released to NARA is provided. The documents are from the pre-World War I period through the end of World War II.”

The links refers to a fascinating listing of cryptologic documents declassified by NSA/CSS in Project OPENDOOR (1996) and released to the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. In the very long, unsorted list one could easily overlook such gems as:

  • William F. Friedman’s “Index of Coincidence and its Application to Cryptography” (# 504)
  • Friedman’s “Analysis of a Mechanico-Electrical Cryptograph, Part I and Part II” (#1874)
  • Yves Gylden’s “Analysis, from the Point of View of Cryptanalysis, of ‘Cryptographer Type C-36’, Etc.” (#62)
  • “Converter M-134-A (Sigaba) Photographs Wiring Diagrams” (#3256)
  • “Cryptanalysis of the Tunny Cipher Device” (#2750)
  • “British Description of Spanish Air Force Wheatstone Cypher Machine” (#971)
  • The famous “‘AF’ Message: Lack of Water for U.S. Air Unit at Midway – WWII” (#3832)

and so much more.

As another example, reading the original unsorted listing also conceals the fact that the list refers to 79 different variants with the Japanese system “JN-*” designator (beginning with JN-11, JN-11D, JN-11G, JN-12, JN-14-J up to JN-73, JN-74, JN-7A, and JN-87).

To simplify access to the information in the list I’ve created a keyword index of the 4,922 entries (not 4,923 as described above — there is no NR 271). The raw list required manual corrections of spelling and formatting. It is my hope that this index will provide easier access to students of cryptology, helping to uncover easily-missed ‘jewels’.

In addition to the keyword index you can access the same list, this time sorted by the title.

Summarizing the offerings of the NSA/CSS declassified documents list:

Should you be interested in reading specific documents in the list, check out NARA’s research page for information on visiting NARA or ordering copies.

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One Response to Easy Indexed Access to Declassified NSA/CSS Documents

  1. mosherubin says:

    I just came across an alternate listing of the above NSA/CSS list at NARA. The list, hosted by the Historical Naval Ships Association, can be found at http://www.hnsa.org/doc/nara/nsaopendoor.htm. Here are several comments about that list:

    (1) The listing is conveniently divided into the respective boxes

    (2) Unlike NSA’s list, this list has an item numbered 271 (“NR 271 CBBB25 9704A 19420000 RADIO OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS, SIGNALS, ABBREVIATIONS FOR NAVAL AND MERCHANT SHIPS”). It is not clear whose list is correct.

    (3) At the bottom of its page, the Historical Naval Ships Association list gives its date of posting as November 21, 1996. This list is a bit ‘long in the tooth’ if it has not been updated for the past 13 years.

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