The Review, Part 2: The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950: A Social History

Read part 1 of the review here

This was a book I hated to finish reading. Chapters 9 – 12 are full of amateur radio’s involvement in aviation, sea journeys, and the exploration of the polar regions. There is great coverage of the private schooner Yankee, which sailed around-the-world with a crew made up of college age young men and stops included the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, Pitcairn (a fascinating story there), Manga, and Tahiti. Alan Eurich, W8IGO, worked the onboard rig and was an invaluable member of the crew. Chapter 10 talks about an amazing air race between Oakland, CA and Hawaii – amateur radio played a key role in tracking the planes and providing help. Anne Morrow Lindbergh operated a rig when flying with her husband, making contacts with many amateurs. The most interesting of the Antarctica explorations involved radio operator Sidney Jeffryes who’s isolation and resulting insanity jeopardized the mission… sending crazed reports back to Australia via Macquarie Island. Almost all the major polar expeditions used radio. QST covered almost all these adventures, sparking the imagination of young hams back home.

Chapter 13 covers amateur radio’s involvement in supporting emergency and disaster response. Flooding, hurricanes, and fire – hams responded and used their radios to help the authorities organize their efforts as well as to pass health and welfare traffic. The forest service was also instrumental in the development of portable radio with the help of dedicated amateurs.

Chapters 14 and 15 cover the neutrality period prior to WWII, WWII itself, and the early post-war years. QST encouraged those hams enlisting in the service to bring along their FCC license and push to be placed in a signal organization to take advantage of their skills.

The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950: A Social History is a great book, well written, entertaining, and enlightening as to the roots of amateur radio in the US. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of ham radio and the individual hams who have contributed so much in the early years.