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Collection
Title: Arthur Batcheller papers
Dates:1888-1977 (bulk 1913-1955)
Call Number:M12

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.
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).