American Radio Relay League Saves Lives 

US #1260 was issued for the league’s 50th anniversary.

On March 28, 1964, amateur radio operators provided essential emergency communications in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Alaska.

The idea for the American Radio Relay League came from Hiram Percy Maxim of Hartford, Connecticut.  One night in April 1914, he wanted to send a message to a friend 30 miles away in Springfield, but was unable to reach him.  From this, the idea struck Maxim to create an organized relay system for radio amateurs.

A few days later, Maxim attended a meeting of his local radio club and suggested the creation of an American Radio Relay League.  The club agreed and the American Radio Relay League was formed on April 6, 1914.  In the coming months, they sent out applications to every amateur radio station they knew of, and by that September, they established a network of more than 230 stations.

US #1260 – Classic First Day Cover.

Over the next 50 years, the league’s membership grew across the country, reaching all the way to Alaska.  Then, just days before the group’s 50th anniversary, a major natural disaster brought the Amateur Radio Relay League into the spotlight.

US #1260 – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover.

On March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake in the history of the United States struck Alaska, greatly damaging Anchorage, Valdez, and the surrounding areas.  The earthquake, which measured a magnitude of 9.2, caused widespread destruction.  In conjunction with the ensuing tsunami (tidal wave) it caused, the quake took nearly 140 lives.

US #C53 was issued on the date of the president’s proclamation of Alaska as a state.

On March 27 and March 28, in the aftermath of this natural disaster, amateur radio operators provided essential emergency communications, which greatly aided relief and rescue operations.  Amateur radio operators, often referred to as “hams,” continue to serve during emergency situations, especially in places with such sparsely populated areas as Alaska.  Today, the Amateur Radio League has 154,000 members in the US, as well as 7,000 in other countries.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
Share this Article


  1. Mystic does a great job on ‘ This Day In History ‘ I look forward to
    watching it… ‘ THANKS’ Mystic Stamps for placing it on my computer every
    day …………….which makes it my favorite watch……………….and that comes from a
    60 year stamp collector, a Korean War Veteran and a history lover……

  2. My father, a WWII vet, was a ham operator and participated in his local group of this organization, in southwestern Washington state.

    Thank you Mystic for refreshing those memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *