Guide to the William Dandridge Terrell Papers

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Custodial History note

Donated to the Division of Electricity by Terrell's wife in 1967. Transferred from the Division of Electricity (now the Division of Work and Industry), on March 30, 1984.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Estelle Wilkerson Terrell in 1967.

Processing Information note

Processed by Robert Harding, archivist, 1985.

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Summary Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator - Creator
Terrell, William Dandrige, (radio communication specialist), 1871-1960s
William Dandridge Terrell Papers
Date [inclusive]
.50 Cubic feet, 1 box
Language of Materials note
Collection is in English.
The collection documents W.D.Terrell's life, specifically his work as Chief of the Radio Division in the Commerce Department. Terrell was responsible for monitoring the institution of radio into the nation's defense forces.

Preferred Citation note

William Dandrige Terrell Papers, 1911-1965, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

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Biographical/Historical note

William Dandrige Terrell (1871-1965) was born in rural Virginia and worked in government service for twenty-two years in the communications field. His specific duties are unknown, but in 1911, after his government service, he was appointed to a New York civilian post. His new duty was to insure the efficient operation of the freshly pioneered wireless apparatus on all Atlantic based Naval ships. In 1915, Terrell was transferred to Washington, D.C. where he supervised a staff of thirty-five. As Chief of Radio Division in the Commerce Department, Terrell was responsible for monitoring the [the use of?] radio nation's defense forces. Terrell was promoted to Chief of Field Operations for the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), which was created in 1934. Terrell continued in that post even when the FRC was changed to Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Terrell retired to Florida in 1943 at the age of 72. He died on March 23, 1965.

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Scope and Contents note

This eight folder collection documents William Dandridge Terrell's life from his 1911 appointment to the Commerce Department to the his death in the 1960s. The collection consists of a brief and partially completed autobiography and descendant listing; a large body of correspondence related to financial planning, insurance policies, and appointment notices; a program from an American Wireless Operators Convention held in his honor; several retirement announcements; business correpsondence concerning Terrell's inspection job from 1911-1914; and four photographs of Terrell, his family, and his friends.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into one series.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Materials in the Archives Center

George H. Clark Collection of Radioana (AC0055)

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • United States. Commerce Department.
  • United States. Federal Radio Commission.


  • Correspondence--1930-1950
  • Personal papers--20th century.
  • Photographs--20th century


  • Communications
  • National defense
  • Radio communication specialists
  • Radio--Defense.
  • Radio--History
  • Wireless communication system

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Biography, undated

1 1

Correspondence, 1912

1 2

Correspondence, 1911 April-1911 July

1 3

Correspondence, 1913

1 4

Correspondence, 1914 August-1914 November

1 5

Correspondence (miscellaneous), 1912-1934, undated

1 6

1964 Yearbook of Veteran Wireless Operators Association, Inc., 1964

1 7

Photographs, undated

1 8