PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The margins of an obscure book at a Brown University library are filled with clusters of curious foreign characters: a mysterious shorthand used by 17th century religious dissident Roger Williams.
For centuries the scribbles went undeciphered. But a team of students there has finally cracked the code.
Historians call the now-readable writings the most significant addition to Williams scholarship in a generation or more.
Williams is Rhode Island's founder and best known as the first figure to argue for the principle of the separation of church and state that would later be enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Senior math major Lucas Mason-Brown cracked much of the shorthand, which consists of 28 symbols that stand for a combination of English letters or sounds.