RG 135: Arlington Air Raid Warden Service Records, 1941-1943

Collection Number
RG 135
The Air Raid Warden Service began during World War II. Local citizens served as wardens under the command of the Chief Control Officer. Within the Northern Virginia area Arlington County was divided into Civilian Defense Zones. The twenty-eight zones in the county were further subdivided into sectors, the smallest air-raid protection unit. Each sector included a population of about 500 persons. The senior sector warden oversaw each sector with the help of assistant air raid wardens, firewatchers, and messengers. The wardens attended workshops on chemical warfare, incendiary devices, and gas masks. One Arlington warden was Thomas D. Whiteley.

The county held periodic air raid drills. When the alarm sounded the warden would monitor citizen compliance and record this information in reports. Drills could take place day or night. The reports noted how quickly people stopped their tasks and sought appropriate shelter. At night, the wardens paid particular attention to blackout compliance efforts.

Following World War II, the Air Raid Warden Service was disbanded. In 1950, as the Cold War gained prominence, the Governor of Virginia established the Northern Virginia Civil Defense Region. Arlington County followed suit by reactivating the Office of Civil Defense on August 12, 1950.
Scope and Content
RG 135 holds material from Arlington County's Air Raid Warden Service from 1941-1943 and measures .2 linear feet. Much of the material is from Arlington County or the Washington metropolitan area and includes information about how to prepare your home for an air raid and specific information about combating a fire bomb or gas attack.

Of special note are the dwelling surveys in the first two folders. The survey contains information about the structure of each home and its construction materials. There are additional notes if the home has residents that could help in an attack (i.e. medical background) or have items that can help in clean up and recovery (i.e. fire hoses and wheelbarrows).
Arrangement and Description
RG 135, due to its small size, is arranged in files based on subject of material.
Doris Hazel, daughter of Warden Thomas D. Whitely, donated this collection in August of 2002
This collection has no restrictions.
Related Collections
For more information on firefighting and rescue in Arlington, see RG 4, Records of the Arlington Fire Department Records, and RG 170, Personal Papers of James Fought. For other resources about Arlington’s local response to World War II, see RG 27, Personal Papers of Beulah Shipley Goss, which deals with war rationing in the county, and RG 90, Company No. 7: Virginia Reserve Militia Records, which documents another local preparedness group.