WATTS Stillwell Prize & Lecture: "Lucas Mason Brown (’13), The Roger Williams Cipher: Progress Towards Solving a 17th Century Mystery"

Mathematics major Lucas Mason-Brown (Brown 2103) is a cryptographer who became interested in the Roger Williams project after learning of the encoded annotations made by Williams in a volume at the John Carter Brown Library — notes that no one had previously been able to read. Working with a team of Brown undergraduates, and using an interdisciplinary approach that drew from applied mathematics as well as the history of 17th-century ciphers and the life of Roger Williams, Mason-Brown managed within a few weeks to crack the code that had eluded scholars for centuries. The project has garnered national attention and coverage in the New York Times, Boston Globe and Slate. On April 15th, Mason-Brown will discuss his work on the project to date and the challenges that remain for understanding what motivated Williams to encode the writings he made in his own books.

This lecture accompanies the John Russell Bartlett Society’s presentation of the Margaret B. Stillwell Prize for Undergraduate Book
Collecting for 2013. The event is co-sponsored by the Charles H. Watts II History of the Book Program at the John Carter Brown Library and is free and open to the public.

APR 5 | Stillwell Prize in book collecting submission deadline. Open to all undergraduate students in Rhode Island. Visit blog for event details.

Monday, April 15, 2013 at 5:30pm to 7:00pm

John Carter Brown Library, MacMillan Reading Room
94 George Street, Providence, RI

Event Type



watts, book, stillwell, collecting, lucas mason brown, roger williams, cryptography




Free admission / No tickets required


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