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

Information For Researchers:

  • Access:
    This collection is open to researchers. Restrictions will be noted at the series level.
  • Preffered Citation:
    Manuscript Collection 234: World War II Homefront Collections. Series number. Series title. Folder number. Item title. Chester County Historical Society Library, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Related Material:

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

Collections Contents:

Series 1: Ground Observer Corps

Series 1a: Ground Observer Corps Collection

Dates: 1941 – 1952
Received: March 22, 2001
Extent: 2 boxes
Restrictions: None
Language: English

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.

Sources Used:

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.

Series Contents

Box 1

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

Box 2

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
Restrictions: None
Language: English

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 Contents

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