Collection Title: World War II Homefront Collections
Collection Number: 234
Dates of Collection: 1941-1952
Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Project Archivist: Jasmine Smith, Maddux Pearson – Intern
Ms. Coll. 204 – WWII Scrapbook, Berwyn Post
Ms. Coll. 205 – West Chester Methodist Church War Scrapbooks, WWII and Korean War
Ms. Coll. 214 – World War II Soldiers’ Collections
Series 1: Ground Observer Corps
Series 1a: Ground Observer Corps Collection
Dates: 1941 – 1952
Received: March 22, 2001
Extent: 2 boxes
Historical Note: The Ground Observer Corps was a US military adjunct that relied on volunteers to spot and plot the movements of aircraft in order to better detect potentially hostile aircraft. The corps had its roots in World War I, but it was not organized by the army in earnest until just months before America’s entry into World War II. Volunteers trained in aircraft recognition would man positions with an unobstructed view of the sky, keep track of any aircraft they had spotted, and report these to a filter center, which would decide what to do about the craft. After World War II, the corps continued into the early years of the Cold War, with volunteers now looking out for Soviet aircraft. It was eventually dissolved in 1959 with the advent of better radar technology and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Callander, B. D. (February 2006). The Ground Observer Corps. Air Force Magazine, 81-83. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
Eyes Aloft [Video file]. (1943). United States: First Motion Picture Unit. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
Scope and Content: This collection contains correspondence, instructional booklets, newsletters, and magazines. Additionally, there are instructional posters, log books, schedule sheets, and memos. Most items are from the World War II period, although some pertain to the postwar period.
Collection Arrangement: The collection is arranged in rough chronological order with undated materials at the end.
Folder 1: Scrapbook of form letters and memos related to Observation Post, ca. 1941-1942 [earlier material addressed to Chief Observer John H. Griel, Kennett Square, later material (after June 23, 1942) addressed to Lawrence H. Greeley as Chief Observer of Observation post 491-C]
Folder 2: ID cards (blank), filled in “Flash Message Forms,” summary page of sightings, ca. 1941-1942
Folder 3: “American Victory” by Paul Gallico from the Saturday Evening Post, April 18, 1942
Folder 4: Identification of Aircraft for Army Air Forces Ground Observer Corps. Restricted. GPO, 1942 [book]
Folder 5: Set of 10 instructional posters for use inside observation post, ca. 1942
Folder 6: “The Observation Post” Volume I – issues 1-2, 9-10, 12-17, 19-23 (March 1942-1943). Volume II – issues 1-4 (April-May 1943)
Folder 7: Notebook containing schedules for spotters and temperature records [“J.H. Griel on front cover]
Folder 8: Accordion folder containing memos, inspection certificates, etc., ca. 1942-1943
Folder 9: Time sheets, shift schedules for Observation post 491-C, logs, observer reports, instructions for observers, ca. 1942-1943
Folder 10: “The Listening Post” Vol. I, issue 1, March 15, 1943
Folder 11: “Flash” Vol. 1, nos. 2, 5 (May, Sept. 1943) “Published monthly by the volunteers in co-operation with the Public Relations Section of the Philadelphia Air Defense Wing, Philadelphia, PA
Folder 12: “Air Force” May-July, Sept.-Nov. 1943
Folder 13: Recognition Pictorial Manual. Restricted. Bureau of Aeronautics Navy Department, June 1943.
Folder 14: “General statement of the War Civilian Security Program as it affects members of the United State Citizens Defense Corps of the Office of civilian Defense, Aircraft Warning Service, and Civil Air Patrol. Administered by the Federal Security Agency.” GPO, 1943 [pamphlet]
Folder 15: “Aircraft Warning Volunteer” July-Oct., Dec. 1943, Jan.-June 1944
Folder 16: “1 Fighter Command Ground Observer Corps Log Book. Post Code Name ‘Able 481’” August 23, 1943-May 24, 1944 [numerous items laid in, includes schedules for spotters, blank forms, etc.]
Folder 17: Typed letter, signed, to Lawrence Greeley, Nov. 22, 1943, congratulating him on receiving Merit Medal
Folder 18: Memos on end of Aircraft Warning Service, Ground Observer Corps., Certificate of Honorable Service for Marshall Peterson, May 29, 1944
Folder 19: Govt. memos and forms related to the Ground Observer Corps., 1951-1952
Folder 20: Ground Observer Corps, “Operation Skywatch” materials, 1952 (includes instructional memo and pad of forms)
Folder 21: Ground Observers’ Guide. Department of the Air Force. AF Manual 50-12. 1952
Folder 22: Two telegrams regarding gasoline rationing for Ground Observers
Folder 23: “Hints for Air Spotters”
Series 1b: Ground Observer Corps Collection
Dates: 1942, 1995
Received: November 10th, 1995
Extent: 1 folder
Scope and Content: Additional information on the Ground Observer Corps. This collection consists only of a single folder containing an aircraft identification letter and a letter from the donor recalling her experiences during the war.
Collection Arrangement: The collection is kept in its original order.
Series 1, Box 2
Folder 24: Identification of Aircraft for Army Air Forces Ground Observer Corps, CPO, 1942; and a letter from the donor dated November 6th, 1995