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Parker Hitt: The Father of American Military Cryptology with Betsy Rohaly Smoot

In this presentation for AHF members, based on the 2022 biography of the same name, Betsy Rohaly Smoot will examine Parker Hitt’s life, and particularly his Army career, and explain why he earned the moniker “father of American military cryptology.”

Parker Hitt was an extraordinary Army Officer with an interesting and wide-ranging career but like so many of his time he has largely been forgotten. Though Hitt did not consider himself a cryptologist, it is his cryptologic legacy that lingers, thanks in part to David Kahn, author of The Codebreakers.

Betsy Rohaly Smoot is an intelligence historian interested in early twentieth-century cryptology and communications. She holds a BA from Mary Washington College and an MS in Strategic Intelligence from what is now the National Intelligence University. Smoot spent 34 years at the National Security Agency as an analyst, manager and, for her final ten years, as a historian in the Center for Cryptologic History (CCH), retiring from that office in 2017. Her book Parker Hitt: Father of American Military Cryptology was published by the University Press of Kentucky in March 2022 and received the World War One Historical Association’s 2022 Tomlinson Book Prize, the 2022 Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award for biography, and the US Military History Group’s 2023 Master Corporal Jan Stanislaw Jakobczak Memorial Book Award. Smoot is also author of the 2023 CCH publication From the Ground Up: American Cryptology During World War I which received the 2023 NSA Cryptologic Literature Award.