Skip navigation

Historical Manuscripts Collection List »

PHILIP AND RETTA REED. Papers; n.d. 1907, 1915-1981. 1.5 cu. ft.

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). He married Retta Colwill at Noorvik in 1922. 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.

The collection consists primarily of papers relating to Philip Reed's military service. Included are correspondence, a draft history of the Alaska Communications System, letters of commendation and appreciation, discharge and promotion papers, pay vouchers, and Philip Reed's 201 file. The 201 file includes letters of appointment, orders, medical records, travel papers, and other records. There are also contact prints and copy negatives of photographs relating to Philip and Retta Reed's family and their life in Alaska. They were selected from the original photographs in the possession of the Reed family. This series also contains an electrostatic copy of the original family photograph album and other pictures.

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.

HMC-0401

Inventory:

BOX 1

Series 1. Personal Papers; n.d., 1917-1973. .1 cu. ft.
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, and the Reed's marriage certificate.

1. Personal correspondence, papers, and greeting cards; 1917-1973. 21 items.
2. Family history - Retta Reed (nee Colwill); n.d. 1 item.
3. Marriage certificate; 1922. 1 item (2 copies).

Series 2. Speech and History of the WAMCATS and the Alaska Communications System (ACS); ca. 1952. .1 cu. ft.
This series contains three different copies/drafts of the "Origin and Founding of the Washington Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System", a brief history of the WAMCATS, and correspondence between Reed and Christine McLain about gathering material for a history of the ACS.

1. Speech, history, and correspondence; ca. 1952. 7 items.

BOX 2

Series 3. Military Service Records - Philip Reed; 1915-1958. .35 cu.ft.
This series contains papers documenting the military service of Philip Reed. Included are records correspondence, commendations, promotions, enlistment and discharge papers, pay records, and his 201 file.

1. Discharge and promotion papers and certificates; 1915-1948. 18 items.
Includes appointments and/or discharges as corporal, sergeant, and first lieutenant in the Signal Corps, Illinois National Guard (1915, 1917); as private first class, staff sergeant, technical sergeant, master sergeant, first lieutenant, lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Signal Corps (1919, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1939, 1942, 1947, 1952); and as lieutenant colonel in the Officers' Reserved Corps. The certificates relate to his completion of courses in military law and justice atomic energy indoctrination (1948, 1950).
2. Letters of commendation and appreciation; 1925, 1928, 1931, 1937, 1942, 1947, 1958. 17 items.
3. Pay and allowance records; 1943, 1945, 1946, 1948. 32 items. This file also includes an Application for National Service Life Insurance (1943).
4. 201 file; 1917-1929. 63 items. 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.
5. 201 file; 1931-1939. 24 items. 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.
6. 201 file; 1940-1942. 36 items. The records relate toappointment 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.
7. 201 file; 1943-1944. 65 items. Records relate to Reed's service at Prince Rupert, B.C.; Anchorage, and other points in Alaska; medical notes; Good Conduct Medal, American Theatre, Asiatic-Pacific Theatre
8. 201 file; 1945-1946. 51 items. 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 (Meritorious Service Unit insignia and overseas service bars.
9. 201 file; 1947-1948. 58 items. 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.
10. 201 file; 1949-1950. 44 items. 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.
11. 201 file; 1951. 39 items. 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.

BOX 3 (Album)

Series 4. Photographs; n.d., ca. 1920-1950s. .8 cu. ft.
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. Of these, 315 prints were selected for reproduction. The series is divided into contact prints and copy negatives; there is also an electrostatic copy of the original photograph collection. The latter illustrates the original order and labels in the albums and on the reverse sides of the loose photographs.

Subseries 4A. Contact Prints; n.d., ca. 1920-1950s. 320 items.
These black and white contact prints were made from the 4 x 5 copy negatives in subseries 4B. In addition, there are five 5 x 7 prints relating to the 1938 Fur Rendezvous during which shirley and Phyllus Reed were pages in the Queen's court.

BOX 4 (Album)

Subseries 4B. Copy Negatives; n.d., 1920-1950s. 320 items.
These 4 x 5 black and white copy negatives were made from selected original prints belonging to the Reed Family. In addition, there are five 35 mm negatives relating to the 1938 Fur Rendezvous Queen's court.

BOX 5

Subseries 4C. Electrostatic Copies; n.d., 1920-1950s. 139 pages.
This sub-series contains copies of the original album (84 pages), the unbound album (16 pages), and loose photographs (39 pages) in the collection. These copies provide the user with the original order and descriptions in the collection.

1. Photograph album; n.d., 1920-1950s. 84 pages.
2. Loose spiral bound album; n.d., 1920-1950s. 16 pages.
3. Loose photographs; n.d., 1920-1940. 39 pages (29 of photographs).

Series 5. Drawings; ca. 1942 - 1945. .1 cu. ft.
This series contains copies of caricature drawings made of Philip Reed while he was an army officer during World War II.

1. Caricature drawings; ca. 1942 - 1945. 5 items.

Series 6. Printed Material; n.d., 1907 - 1981. .1 cu. ft.
This series contains copies of various printed materials relating to the Reed Family and their
work in Alaska.

1. Newspaper and journal clippings; n.d., 1907, 1923, 1934, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1981. 19 items.
2. Pamphlets; n.d. 2 items.
The pamphlets are histories of the Alaska Communications System (ACS).
3. Topographic Map of the City of Anchorage; 1953. 1 item.