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CECOM Historical Office
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About the CECOM Historical Office

Overview

The CECOM Historical Office is located on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in Building 6002 of the C4ISR Center of Excellence.

The Historical Collection exists in accordance with the authorization of AR 870-5 to maintain documents, books, photos, and related types of information about the CECOM, predecessor organizations, communication-electronics technology, and Fort Monmouth since 1917, deemed to be of informational value in the professional judgment of the Command and Staff Historians.

These are not official records in the sense of governmental records depositories, but only those selected by the historians based on their potential value for the history of the aforementioned subjects. The Collection exists primarily for the CECOM historians, Command Group and staff, and authorized researchers for use in the study of the history of the CECOM, predecessor organizations, communication-electronics technology, and Fort Monmouth.

Background of the Office

The Historical Office preserves information pertaining to CECOM, and its predecessor organizations, dating back to 1917. In 1962, with the breakup of the technical services, the Signal Corps and its history was split among various agencies. As a result, Signal history can be found at 9th Army Signal Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., the U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., and at the CECOM at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Each command has a historian and a historical collection.

Mission

To preserve, for those who come after us, an accurate and objective account of our present experience. To use our knowledge of the past to inform the present and shape the future.

Functions

The Historical Office carries out a number of key functions to best serve its mission.

Including to:

  • Serve as the central repository for Historical Sources Collection. Collect, review and conserve documents. Maintain the command's archives. Provide reference and educational services as part of the Historical Program.
  • Collect, research and write the Annual Command History for the CECOM in accordance with AR 870-5.
  • Research and write monographs assigned by the U.S. Army Center for Military History
  • Conduct an Oral History program
  • Maintain and update a historical Web site
  • Update historical publications (such as the Concise History, Commander’s hardcover book, Commanding Officers at CECOM and its predecessor organizations, Fort Monmouth Landmarks and Place Names and Fort Monmouth and Team C4ISR Firsts and Timeline)
  • Respond to historical inquiries and requests for research, over 200 per year
  • Host academic researchers
  • Provide historical support in decision making
  • Provide historical data for speeches
  • Provide historical briefings at speaking engagements
  • Conduct digital history project for command archives
  • serve as the intermediary between CECOM and the APG Garrison memorialization officer


Short Term Objectives

  • Update publications to reflect CECOM’s move to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
  • Continue the preservation of the command's archives through the digitization of archival materials
  • Preserve the institutional memory of the command through oral history interviews


Long Term Objectives

  • Digitize the entire archives and allow public access to some of the collection via the historical Web site
  • Further community outreach objectives by offering historical briefings and speaking at schools, etc

Office Structure

The four major functions in which the Historical office engages are as follows: collecting and archiving historical documents, writing histories, conducting oral histories, and performing research requests for members of the command and the public.

The staff of the Historical Office conducts a continual archival process to facilitate research requests. They protect CECOM's historic documents by monitoring the temperature and humidity, controlling the sunlight and by storing everything in acid free storage boxes.


CECOM Historical Collection

The CECOM Historical Collection is located in the Historical Office at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md and consists of documents, still photos, films, recordings (audio and video), and miscellaneous other outdated media (i.e., floppy disks, safety films, slides, microfiche, etc.). The Collection also has a small military history reference library (approximately 2000 volumes).


Archived Materials

The CECOM Historical Office houses an impressive archive.
The CECOM Historical Office houses an impressive archive.
  • Biographies

The office currently holds approximately 1500 biographies, which include histories of notable Team C4ISR and Fort Monmouth personnel. The files contain traditional biographic notes as well as photos and press clippings, and are regularly updated. We add new biographies almost daily.

  • Oral Histories

The office conducts and preserves oral history interviews with the Commander and key active duty and retired military and civilian staff officers. This includes End-of-Tour interviews and interviews that were conducted during and after combat operations such as Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The office currently has oral history interviews with over 100 individuals in a variety of formats, and is working to digitize older, more obsolete recordings.

  • Annual Histories

The office has several shelves of Annual Command Histories and summaries for CECOM and its predecessor organizations. It also holds copies of annual histories from the various other MSCs as well as AMC. They are arranged chronologically by year.

  • Films

The office is working a continual effort to convert all older footage to DVD, but has an extensive library of historic film; roughly 500 rolls of 16mm film, much of it taken in the 1960s. Many show testing done by the Army, for example the series entitled “Upper Atmosphere Experiments,” or “Summer Tests, Yuma, AZ.” Others are general histories, with titles such as “Century of Signals, 1860-1960;” and still others focus on individual systems, like, “Surveillance Drone System AN/USD.”

  • Photographs

The Historical Office has an extensive collection of photographs dating from the Civil War up to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of the photos depict Signal Corps communications work. The history of Fort Monmouth’s early days as Camp Alfred Vail is preserved in dozens of photos. Other categories of photos include events by year, installation photos and photos of systems and equipment.

In 2010, the Historical Office acquired a valuable collection of negatives dating from WWI through the 1930s, taken by Army photographer Frank Cole. There is a card catalog that accompanied the negatives, but currently the collection is not further cataloged.

Fragile photos are preserved by individual sleeves and are handled with gloves to prevent deterioration.

  • Newspapers and Newsletters

The office's collection of newspaper archives dates back to 1917. The oldest post newspaper is the Dots and Dashes from 1917-1919. The YMCA at Camp Alfred Vail published Dots and Dashes weekly.

The newspaper archives also include The Signal Corps Message from 1942-1948, the Signaleer from 1945-1946, and the Monmouth Message from 1954 through its end run in 2010. The office has been collecting the Tobyhanna Reporter since the late 90s.

In an effort to preserve the newspapers and make them more accessible to researchers, the office is currently digitizing its papers, letters and publications so that digital copies can be used whenever possible instead of the originals.

A collection of publications at the CECOM Historical Office.
A collection of publications at the CECOM Historical Office.
  • Magazines and Journals

The office holds issues of a number of different magazines and journals, including the Infantry Journal and Radio News from WWII, the Green Book from 1964-1998, and Army History from 1983 to present.

  • Reference Library

Its reference library contains roughly 600 volumes, categorized by subject matter to include Combat Operations and Military Interventions, Military History, General History, Specialized Military Topics, Technical Guides, and General Reference Materials. One example of a particularly old volume is 'The Life of George Washington' from 1832.

  • Oversized Files

The office holds some oversized documents such as maps, blueprints, or organizational charts. Some other items contained are a radio license from 1927, and panoramic pictures from the Panama Canal Zone in 1927.

  • General Archives

The office's general archives are stored in acid free boxes and contain documents pertaining to various technical and historical subjects. Information is stored pertinent to a specific year, or a specific subject, for example, homing pigeons. The office has photos and press clippings about the pigeons used by the Army for communications, and the original notebooks used as pigeon breeding logs.

Donated materials also make their way to the archives. The papers of Retired Col. William R. Blair (1874-1962), for example, were deposited many years ago. COL Blair, who is known as the father of American radar, was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame on 23 June 2007.

Office Staff

The Historical Office at CECOM currently has a staff of three individuals. The office has published articles in various newspapers, magazines, and journals. The Historian Staff has received awards for history related articles that appeared in the Monmouth Message.

The Historical Office is augmented by summer youth volunteers and interns from local universities.