Cryptologists Answer!

Cynthia Anthonsen Foster letter. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryCynthia Anthonsen Foster letter. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

Curious hobbyists from across our readership—one from as far away as Alaska—took up our challenge to decode notes exchanged between Cynthia Anthonsen Foster and her boyfriend, Kenneth R. Miller.

Carol Sternhell ’71 was the first to write in with her interpretation, but not before Summer Unsinn, one of our own catalogers of published material, cracked the code from the inside. All the letters we received delighted in talking through the process. Peter Sobol worked on the transcription with his son. Ali Daniell and Jody Fisher Williams ’56 noted the evolution of the code from letter to letter.

Several readers—such as Jonathan Alvarez-Gutierrez, who enclosed a screenshot of how he worked it out—noted that the code is a substitution cypher. Job Cardoza included a handy table showing all the substitutions along with his translations and notes.

We thank everyone who took the time to solve this puzzle and write us about it. We enjoyed reading all your e-mails. Jackie Wecker McDonough best summed up the task: “That was fun to crack, especially with the sweet images of snowy Massachusetts and teen love!”

Below is the crowdsourced translation, original misspellings and all.

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