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Arthur Batcheller papers

 Collection
Identifier: M012

Scope and Content Note

The Arthur Batcheller papers document his personal and professional life. The collection is divided into two series: personal and professional. Within the personal series, there are four subseries: general, photography, dance, and films.

The personal series, subseries A, general, consists of documents relating to Batcheller's family genealogy (box 1, folders 2-4), education (box 1, folders 6, 10-11, 14-16, 58) and accomplishments (box 1, folder 1). The photography subseries consists of correspondence regarding admission into photography clubs and exam sheets for Batcheller's photography license (box 1, folder 17), and photographs (boxes 4-8) taken both by Batcheller and other photographers. Those images that Batcheller took are identified by his stamp on the back. The photographers of most of the remaining photographs are unknown. The topics of the photographs include family and friends, railroads, radio, actresses, and dancers. Many of the photographs, especially those of dancers and actresses, are unidentified.

The dance subseries includes 13 ballet slippers (boxes 9-10) of which 8 are autographed (with recognizable signatures), 3 of which are unsigned and 2 of which are unidentified. A complete list of the dancer's names (as supplied by Batcheller) is located in the collections control file. The film subseries consists of 31 16 mm films. The films (boxes 11-12) are on various topics including World War II news reels, the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I, and fables.

The professional series incorporates written documents that relate to Batcheller's career in radio telegraphy. Included are annual reports of the Second Radio District from 1916-1939 (box 2, folders 30-33), technical pamphlets (box 2, folders 41-42), correspondence (box 2, folders 23-29) and yearbooks from the Veterans Wireless Operators Association (box 2, folders 52-53). He received correspondence from a wide range of sources, including the Department of Commerce, the Department of Navigation, and President Herbert Hoover. There are professional pamphlets on radio equipment and technology including some which Batcheller wrote.

The personal correspondence in series one and the professional correspondence in series two contain many undated and incomplete letters. Some of the correspondence that is neither to nor from Batcheller relates to employees who worked under him or concerns his radio investigations. According to Batcheller, material in the professional series is comprised of copies, the originals of which were destroyed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Dates

  • 1888-1977 (bulk 1913-1955)

Creator

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

Arthur Batcheller was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1888 and attended the Boston School of Telegraphy in 1902. In 1906 he joined the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad (BRB&LR) as locomotive fireman. While working at the railroad, he pursued a degree in electronics at the Boston YMCA Electrical Engineering School. After receiving his degree and returning to the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad as assistant chief electrician, he enrolled in the Boston YMCA Polytechnic School where he earned his First Class Radio Operators license in 1913. He left the railroad in 1914 and joined the Eastern Steamship Corporation as chief electrician until 1916. Batcheller then became assistant chief electrician with the American Steam, Gauge and Valve Manufacturing Company from 1916 to 1917. When America entered World War I in 1917, Batcheller was appointed Radio Inspector for Boston and continued in this position until late 1918. As Radio Inspector, he was given security clearance to board German ships in Boston Harbor and seal off their transmitting equipment.

In 1917 Batcheller received permission from the U.S. government to establish a radio school. The First United States Government Free Radio School was established to train wireless and radio operators for the military. From June 1917 to November 1918, the school trained more than 1,000 men. The school closed in November 1918 when the Armistice was signed, ending World War I.

Batcheller was affiliated with the Massachusetts Radio and Telegraphy School in Boston from late 1918 through 1919. In 1920 he was appointed Chief Radio Inspector for the Second Federal Radio District (Port of New York) by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. In this position, Batcheller was responsible for the communications traffic of the port of New York and was commissioned to serve as the Technical Adviser to the U.S. Delegation of the 1927 International Radio Telegraph Conference.

President Hoover appointed Batcheller to the position of Traveling Supervisor of Radio in 1930. This was the highest field position in radio service at that time. When the Federal Communications Commission was established in 1932, Batcheller became Supervisor of the Radio for the New York district.

Batcheller also had a role in radio investigations including several notable cases involving shipwrecks, communication treaties, and cases of federal law enforcement of radio bootlegging. During the 1930's he was responsible for developing the licensing practices of commercial networks and their member station. Through his professional assignments, he enjoyed friendships with David Sarnoff (the radio operator who received the call from the Titanic), Senator Guglielmo Marconi, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh.

In his personal life, Batcheller was a free lance photographer and also had an interest in ballet. During his years in New York from 1920 to 1956, he and his sister, Mabel, attended many dance performances. Combining their interests in photography and dance, Arthur and Mabel began collecting memorabilia including signed photographs of world renowned dancers and autographed ballet slippers. Batcheller also had an interest in the movie industry and collected many photographs of actresses including Marilyn Monroe.

In 1956 Batcheller retired and moved to Framingham, Mass., where he and his sister founded and operated his private museum. He died on March 7, 1978 at a nursing home in Framingham.

Extent

6.00 cubic feet (12 containers)

Language

English

Overview

Arthur Batcheller was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1888. He attended the Boston School of Telegraphy in 1902. In 1906, he joined the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad (BRB&LR) as locomotive fireman. While working on the railroad, he pursued a degree in electronics at the Boston YMCA Electrical Engineering School. He earned his First Class Radio Operators license from the Boston YMCA Polytechnic School in 1913. Between 1917 and 1918, he was the Radio Inspector for Boston. From 1918 to 1919, he was affiliated with the Massachusetts Radio and Telegraphy School in Boston, Batcheller was appointed Chief Radio Inspector for the Second Federal Radio District (Port of New York) in 1920 by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. In 1930 he was appointed to the position of Traveling Supervisor of Radio. Batcheller played a role in radio investigations including several notable cases involving shipwrecks, communication treaties, and cases of federal law enforcement of radio bootlegging. During the 1950s he was responsible for developing the licensing practices of commercial radio networks and their member stations. In his personal life, Batcheller was a freelance photographer who photographed many women and dancers. He also collected photographs of world-renowned dancers and actresses, including Marilyn Monroe, as well as autographed ballet slippers. Batcheller died on March 7, 1978 at a nursing home in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Overview

The Arthur Batcheller papers document his personal and professional life. The professional series contains records relating to Batcheller's career in radio telegraphy. Included are annual reports of the Second Radio District from 1916 to 1939, technical pamphlets, correspondence, and yearbooks from the Veterans Wireless Operators Association. He received correspondence from a wide range of sources, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Bureau of Navigation, and President Herbert Hoover. There are also professional pamphlets on radio equipment and technology, including some that Batcheller wrote. The personal series documents Batcheller's genealogy, education and accomplishments, and interests in photography, film, and ballet. Topics of the photographs include family and friends, railroads, radio, actresses, and dancers. There are also thirty-one 16mm films on various events and topics including World War II news reels, the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I, and fables.

System of Arrangement:

Organized into 2 series: 1. Personal and 2. Professional.

Physical Location

73/3

Bibliography

  • Batcheller, Arthur. Letter to Honorable E.T. Chamberlain re: leaving the Boston office to take time off to pursue Boston Telegraphy School (box 1, folder 24).
  • Batcheller, Arthur. Personal History of Arthur Batcheller. February 5, 1944. (box 1, folder 28).
  • Boston School of Telegraphy. Question Sheet letterhead (box 1, folder 20).
  • Boston Sunday Post. August 30, 1953, p.34 (box 1, folder 13).
  • David, Edward N. Letter of recommendation from American Steam Gauge and Valve Manufacturing Company (box 1, folder 24).
  • Department of Commerce. Appointment Letters (box 2, folder 34).
  • Laskey, G.W. Letter of Recommendation from Eastern Steamship Corporation (box 1, folder 24).
  • Natick (Mass) Bulletin. June 29, 1967. p.2 (box 1, folder 13).
Title
Finding aid for the Arthur Batcheller Papers
Author
Finding aid prepared by Amy Lux
Date
April 1997
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US