This Post is Filtered – Filter Centers

I’ve mentioned filter centers a bunch but have managed to completely forget to write a blog post about them. A lot went on at a filter center so there will be a series of posts about them. I also found out that my father worked at the filter center in Montgomery, AL in I think 1957 when he was a teen-ager. To get you started, here is an overview.

Filter centers were in charge of receiving all the reports from the observation posts, filtering those reports, tracking aircraft, and alerting the Air Defense Directive Center of possible hostile aircraft. They were also in charge of keeping all the records from GOC observation posts, distributing promotional, recruitment, and training materials, as well as fielding calls from the general public. Filter centers were manned by a joint Civil Defense-Air Force team comprised of active duty Air Force personnel as well as a staff of volunteers with the GOC. Each filter center could have around 300 observation posts under its direction.

Calls would come into the filter center to the “filterers” who would take down the information. “Plotters” would place counters on the filter map plot to mark direction, altitude, type of aircraft, and number.

This photograph shows the filter map of the New York Information Center.
(Photo courtesy Air Force History Support Office)

The GOC had 26 filter centers across the United States by 1955. As with the rest of the GOC, most of the volunteers who worked in filter centers were women. Filter center volunteers had their own specific set of wings labeled “Filter Center” and were eligible for merit awards.

This cover of Life Magazine features a filterer in Connecticut.

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