Thomas Lessing Black

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Thomas Lessing Black was an American who worked as a chemist during World War II and was engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union starting in late 1933 or early 1934. Black had been recruited by Gaik Ovakimian and did secret work for Amtorg. Black recruited Harry Gold into espionage for the Soviet Union in 1935. In 1940 Joseph Katz became his chief KGB contact. His last contact with Katz was in 1946. Black is the subject of seven Venona project messages. Black's cover names as with Soviet intelligence as decypered in the Venona project are "Black" and "Peter". Black was employed by the United States Government in the Bureau of Standards.


Thomas Lessing Black is referenced in the following Venona project decrypts:

  • 1370 KGB New York to Moscow, 27 September 1944
  • 1403 KGB New York to Moscow, 5 October 1944
  • 1429 KGB New York to Moscow, 9 October 1944
  • 1430 KGB New York to Moscow, 10 October 1944
  • 1557 KGB New York to Moscow, 6 November 1944
  • 1055 KGB New York to Moscow, 5 July 1945
  • 83 KGB Moscow to New York, 28 January 1945
  • 259 Moscow to New York, 21 March 1945

Personal Life

It is said Thomas was a fan of comic books; in particular the Sub-Mariner from Marvel Comics. His love for caipirinha and other drinks derived from brazilian cachaça are legendary; actually, it is believed that he createdsome of these drinks. Even though they neve married, Thomas has a girlfrind in Brazil. Her name was Sandra Black, and they dated for quite a while. They had a child, Clara Black, who wrote a book about his father's personal life, published by Editora Globo.


  • Thomas Black testimony, 17 May 1956, part 21, 1113–1124, “Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States,” U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act, 84th Cong., 2d sess.
  • Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 20–47.
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, New Haven: Yale University Press, (1999), pgs.267, 277, 288, 290–291.
  • BLACK, Clara. "Meu pai é um espião!" Black. Rio de Janeiro, 1998, 3rd edition. Editora Globo.