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Philip and Retta Reed papers

Guide to the Philip and Retta Reed papers

Collection number: HMC-0401.
Reed, Philip.
Reed, Retta.
Title: Philip and Retta Reed papers.
Dates: 1907-1981.
Volume of collection: 1.0 cubic feet.
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Collection summary: Papers of a Alaska Communications System operator and his wife, a nurse.

Biographical note:
Philip Reed was born in Illinois in 1895. He enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 1914. He served on the Mexican border and then as an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France (1918-1919). He was the operator in charge of the Alaska Communications System (ACS) of the U.S. Army Signal Corps station at Noorvik, Alaska (1921-1923); as operator in charge of the ACS station at Iditarod (1923-1925); as a radio operator at the ACS station at Fairbanks (1925-1927); and as a transmitter technician for the ACS station at Seward (1927-1928). In 1922, He married Retta Colwill a nurse from Washington, who was working with the U.S. Department of the Interior at Noorvik. While stationed at Noorvik, Philip Reed was the sole contact with Roald Amundsen’s expeditions in the Arctic. While at Iditarod, he kept in contact with the serum run from Nulato to Nome during the diphtheria epidemic. The Reeds left Alaska in 1928 for Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he was a radio instructor (1928-1931). In 1936, Reed was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to work as a radio installer and technician at the Signal Corps headquarters. In 1936, they returned to Alaska, where Reed became operator in charge of the ACS station at Anchorage (1936-1939). They then moved to Seattle, where he was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the transmitter station there (1939-1942). Philip Reed was commissioned a first lieutenant in May 1942, and promoted to captain in November 1942. The Reeds returned to Anchorage in 1943, where he served as radio engineer officer for the ACS (1943-1945). He was appointed executive officer for the ACS at Anchorage (February 1945) and then officer in charge with the rank of major (November 1945). He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1950 and retired in 1951. He died in 1981.

Collection description:
The collection consists of photocopies of Philip and Retta Reed’s personal papers, papers relating to Philip’s career in the military, and photographs. Included are correspondence, letters of commendation and appreciation, discharge and promotion papers, pay vouchers, Philip Reed’s 201 file, and a draft history of the Alaska Communications System. The 201 file includes letters of appointment, orders, medical records, travel papers, and other records.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Philip and Retta Reed personal papers; undated, 1917-1981.
Series 2: Philip Reed professional papers; undated, 1915-1958.
Series 3: Visual materials; undated, 1916-1942.

Alternative formats: The collection includes xerographic copies of the two albums and loose photographs to indicate the original order of the materials. Also included are prints and copy negatives of selected photographs.

Digitized copies: Selected photographs have been digitized and can be found online on Alaska’s Digital Archives by searching for “Philip and Retta Reed.”

Rights note: The Archives has authority to grant permission for reproduction and use of materials in this collection.

Preferred citation: Philip and Retta Reed papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Acquisition note: The collection was loaned to the archives for copying in by Shirley C. Whisman and Phyllis R. Levin, daughters of Philip and Retta Reed, in 1993.

Processing information: This collection was described by Dennis Walle in 1995. The guide to the collection was converted to current standard by Gwen Sieja in 2015. At that time a photocopy of a topographical map and a duplicate copy of a photo album were removed.

Location of originals: The originals of copied materials in this collection were retained by Shirley C. Whisman.

Container list:

Series 1: Philip and Retta Reed personal papers; undated, 1917-1981. 0.1 cubic feet.
The series primarily contains copies of personal papers of Philip and Retta Reed. Included are correspondence, greeting cards and post cards (with notes), a list of savings bonds, Retta Reed’s family history, the Reeds’ marriage certificate, and newspaper clippings related to the Reeds’ lives and interests.

Box/ Folder Description Dates
1/1 Personal correspondence, papers, and greeting cards. 21 items. 1917-1973
1/2 Family history – Retta Reed (nee Colwill). 1 item. undated
1/3 Marriage certificate. 1 item 1922
1/4 Newspaper and journal clippings. 19 items. undated, 1907-1981

Series 2: Philip Reed professional papers; undated, 1915-1958. 0.5 cubic feet.

This series contains papers documenting Philip Reed’s military career. Included are correspondence, commendations, promotions, enlistment and discharge papers, pay records, as well as his 201 files, which are military personnel files that include awards, promotions, travel and leave records, and military education records. Also in the collection are drafts of a speech entitled “Origin and Founding of the Washington Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System”, a brief history of the WAMCATS, and correspondence with Christine McLain concerning the history of the ACS.

Box/ Folder Description Dates
1/5 Discharge and promotion papers and certificates. 18 items. 1915-1948
1/6 Letters of commendation and appreciation. 17 items. 1925-1958
1/7 Pay and allowance records. 32 items. 1943-1958
1/8 201 file. These records concern Reed’s service in World War I. They also include his orders to attend the Radio School in San Francisco; to take charge of the radio station at Noorvik, Alaska; papers on his service at Iditarod, Valdez, Fairbanks, Seward, and Fort Monmouth (New Jersey); his promotion to staff sergeant; and travel. 63 items. 1917-1929
1/9 201 file. These records relate to Reed’s service at, and travel to and/or from, Fort Monmouth; Washington, D.C.; and Battery Cove, Virginia; Seattle, Washington (ACS); Anchorage, Alaska. They also include papers relating to his promotions to technical sergeant and to master sergeant. 24 items. 1931-1939
1/10 201 file. The records relate to appointment to rank of first lieutenant; medical disability and waiver; service with the ACS in Seattle and Alaska; American Defense Service Ribbon; and his promotion to the rank of captain. 36 items. 1940-1942
1/11 201 file. Records relate to Reed’s service at Prince Rupert, B.C.; Anchorage, and other points in Alaska; medical notes; Good Conduct Medal, American Theatre, Pacific Theatre. 65 items. 1943-44
1/12 201 file. Records concern to Reed’s service, leaves, travel, and immunization; promotion to the rank of major; changes in assignments from officer in charge of radio in Anchorage to ACS executive officer to officer in charge of the ACS-Anchorage; Reed’s position description Questionnaire; and awards. 51 items. 1945-1946
1/13 201 file. Records relate to service, travel, leaves, etc.; letters of thanks from A. G. Heibert and B. Washburn; his efficiency report; appointment in the Officer’s Reserve Corps; service as sector commander and officer in charge and as deputy commander of the ACS; service on boards of inquiry; and his extension of active duty. 58 items. 1947-1948
1/14 201 file. Records relate to allotments, retirement, and travel; appointment to various boards and committees; manuals; training courses on military law and justice and atomic energy indoctrination; appointment as lieutenant colonel. 44 items. 1949-1950
1/15 201 file. Records relate to service, retirement, hospitalization at Madigan Army Hospital; record of leaves taken; medical histories, examinations, evaluations; Physical Examination Board record; and separation papers. 39 items. 1951
1/16 Alaska Communications System history pamphlets. 2 items. circa 1949
1/17 Speech and history of the WAMCATS and the Alaska Communications System (ACS) circa 1952-1967

Series 3: Visual materials; undated, 1916-1942. 0.4 cubic feet.

This series contains copies of photographs selected from those in the possession of the Reed Family. The original photographs loaned for copying were in one large album; a small, unbound album; and a group of loose photographs. Photocopies of the albums and loose photographs illustrate the original order and labels in the albums and on the reverse sides of the loose photographs. The series is arranged by album, with the photocopied albums preceding the selected prints and negatives from each one.The series also contains caricature drawings made of Philip Reed during World War II.

Box/ Folder Description Dates
1/18 Caricature drawings. 5 items. circa 1942-1945
1/19-1/23 Large photograph album. Photographs depict the S.S. Victoria, the Sea Wolf,  the Pardners, Revenue Cutter Bear, Seattle, Washington, Nome, Noorvik, the Noorvik Hospital, Noatak, Barrow Trail, St. Lawrence Island, Noatak Reindeer Fair, Noorvik Reindeer Fair, Alaska Railroad, Livengood Tram Road, Alaska Natives,  radio equipment, livestock, gold panning, dog sled teams, and scenery. undated, 1916-1925
1/24-26 Small photograph album. Photographs depict scenes in Noorvik, Seward, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Iditarod, Alaska, the Yukon River, Alaska Natives, reindeer, dogs, and dog sled teams. circa 1916-1928
1/27-29 Loose photographs. Photographs depict the University of Washington campus, Anchorage, Noorvik, and Seward, Alaska, Alaska Communications System personnel, Bob Reeve, 1938 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, Alaska Natives, radio equipment, cemeteries, and reindeer. undated, 1921-1942

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