- Call number
- MssCol 176
- Physical description
- 30 linear feet (30 boxes, 3 packages)
- Preferred Citation
- Bacon cipher collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library
- Manuscripts and Archives Division
- Access to materials
- Advance notice required. Request access to this collection.
The Bacon cipher theory was formulated by individuals who sought to translate codes alleged to exist in the writings of Sir Francis Bacon. Two separate codes, the "Word Cipher" discovered by Orville W. Owen and the "Biliteral Cipher" discovered by Elizabeth W. Gallup, purport to contain secret messages revealing that Bacon was the son of an undisclosed marriage between Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester. In addition, the deciphered messages state that Bacon was the author of works usually attributed to Shakespeare, Robert Burton, Marlowe, and others. George Fabyan, a Chicago businessman, purchased the rights to Owen's work, hired Mrs. Gallup, and established the Riverbank Laboratory in Geneva, Illinois in order to study the codes. Fabyan published studies of cryptography and sold guides to teach the public how to decipher Bacon's code. The bulk of the collection consists of transcriptions and notes used in deciphering the codes; publications by Owen, Gallup and the Riverbank Laboratory; articles on the Bacon controversy; and clippings. The Riverbank records contain transcriptions, clippings, legal documents, correspondence, student portfolios and lesson plans, publications, and reproductions used for these publications. Owen and Gallup materials include transcriptions along with lectures, articles and clippings. Also, slips for a concordance to Robert Burton's work, The Anatomy of Melancholy.
Source of acquisitionGift, Curtis, Josephine C, 11/11/60
Using the collection
LocationManuscripts and Archives Division
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018-2788
Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, Third Floor, Room 328