Radio Club of America
AWA opened a new exhibit in August 2023 that features the Radio Club of America (RCA), the world’s oldest wireless society. Founded in 1909, RCA’s members and officers preserved their history, creating a treasure trove of documents and mementos of their illustrious members, many of whom created wireless communications in its various forms: telegraphy, radio, television, cellular, digital, etc.
AWA is a partner organization with RCA, and AWA holds RCA’s historical archive, including back issues of the Proceedings, and club historical paperwork, medals and documents from RCA’s famous members, and other artifacts and documents that capture a wealth of information, providing a rare glimpse of the early founders and inventors of wireless. Edward O’Connor from RCA has recently teamed with Jim and Felicia Kreuzer at AWA to re-organize and catalogue the archive. As files are being re-organized at AWA, a wonderful history is being unveiled that shows the progression of invention and ingenuity that is inspired by the club’s vision. RCA’s founders were fortunate youths, nurtured by parents who created a safe space to tinker and learn. They were mentored by great minds such as Armstrong and Fessenden. Every one of the first 1909 members could very well have been recognized in a Who’s Who of wireless communication.
Founded on “The Spirit of Good Fellowship and the Free Interchange of Ideas among all Radio Enthusiasts”, the club’s mission inspired the original youth members and grew to encompass many more professionals, nonprofessionals, academics and other leaders and inventors of wireless through the years. Engineering and scientific papers were presented and shared at RCA’s meetings, and printed copies were made available in issues of the Proceedings. Banquets were held to honor achievements, and special edition yearbooks were printed every 25 years. The 100th anniversary edition, in keeping with the times, was created in 2009 as a DVD. Many documents were scanned onto the DVD. Today, an effort is underway to fill any gaps as new material is discovered and to update the archive for the years after 2009.
AWA members carefully obtained and preserved materials from Gilbert Houck’s estate and items preserved by June Poppele. Other RCA members provided Fred Link’s medals, and many files were supplied by Jerry Minter. AWA is extremely grateful for the efforts of RCA Fellow Edward O’Connor who is still in the process of collecting more materials that are being received from RCA that have been held by its members. He is organizing and cataloguing the archive, and many of the earliest documents have already been filed for easy access. The goal of the effort is to preserve and to make available the materials for any enthusiastic historian desiring to research the history of RCA and its members. AWA has its own direct ties to RCA members.
AWA’s collection includes original Armstrong equipment donated by Harry Houck, Jack Poppele’s scrapbooks, and the Voice of America’s Delano broadcasting control room, dedicated to Jack Poppele, VOA director from 1954-1956. Many rare documents are in the archive. The most historically significant documents will be scanned for easy public access while being preserved in the AWA’s library.
AWA Museum Exhibit
The AWA Museum contains many exhibits of radio technology and history. A virtual tour is available on this website here.
Specific materials related to the Radio Club of American can be found on this website using the button to the right.