History of the ARRL 7th Area Incoming QSL Bureau

Written by Don Tucker, W7WLL

The following is based on information found in QST and from ARRL HQ Incoming Bureau staff and OT’ers. ARRL HQ (unfortunately) did not and does not keep historical data on the ARRL Incoming QSL Bureaus, their managers and volunteers.

The ARRL Incoming QSL Bureau system was established in March 1933. Following are the 7th Call Area people and clubs who have managed the Bureau, beginning in 1933.

  • 1933 (Mar) L.Q. Kelly, W7BPC, 4919 So. Prospect St, Tacoma WA
  • 1936 (Dec) Frank E. Pratt, W7DXZ, 5032 So. Ferry St, Tacoma WA
  • 1949 (Nov) Bob Donovan, W7EYS, 1530 Fairview St, Bellingham WA
  • 1950 (Dec) Mary Ann Tatro, W7FWR, 513 N Central, Olympia WA
During the period Mary Ann was the Bureau Manager she began stamping EVERY incoming card with a hand stamp. Her card stamp looked like this:

In August 1956, the 7th Area QSL Bureau was transferred to Joseph F. Vogt, W7ASG, 3599 Karen Ave, Salem OR. It is unclear if the Salem ARC was involved at the time. Joe also hand stamped each card.

In August 1958, Joe moved to John Day OR (PO Box 88) and the Salem Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 61, Salem OR, took over the 7th Area QSL Bureau. The club maintained the Bureau until the beginning of June 1965, when the Bureau was transferred to the Willamette Valley DX Club. The Bureau Managers within the Salem club are not known. The Salem club continued the practice of hand stamping each and every incoming QSL card through May 1965. This is the Salem club stamp.

The Willamette Valley DX Club, Inc, PO Box 555, Portland OR took over responsibility of the 7th Area Incoming QSL Bureau in June 1965. Known WVDXC Managers during the period between June 1965 and 1997 follow, but the exact dates of service of the first few is unknown.

  • Jim Boland, W7GUR (SK)
  • Don Tucker, W7WLL
  • Jim Sullivan, W7EJ (SK)
  • Ken Miller, K7IFG (1997-2012)
The WVDXC continued the practice of stamping each and every incoming QSL card for a period of years. This is a view of the WVDXC card stamp. Later, a couple of different versions also appeared, probably purchased by a particular sorter. WVDXC ended the stamping practice in or around April 1973.

In January 2012, the WVDXC changed its decades long incoming PO 555 address from Portland to PO Box 5993, Boring OR. The Manager was Marc Willis, NC7M.

In May 2019, the WVDXC again changed its incoming PO address. The new address (still current) is Willamette Valley DX Club, Inc, PO Box 1288, Battle Ground WA 98604-4687. Al Lewey, K7ABL, is the Manager.

Packages of incoming QSL cards arriving at the Bureau PO Box are typically brought by the Manager to the monthly WVDXC club meetings. Club members diligently sort the cards into A through Z suffix letter trays. Thousands upon thousands of cards are sorted every year.

Last, but not least, there are the 26 suffix (7A-7Z) volunteers who provide a significant amount of personal time and effort. The initially sorted cards provided to each volunteer suffix sorter are resorted to the next letters and mailed, as appropriate, to their Bureau subscribers. This latter task is complicated by incoming cards which are ‘busted’ calls, where the call owner has notified the Bureau they don’t want cards, time tracing down those who have changed their calls (often requiring passing the cards along to another suffix sorter or another Call Area Incoming QSL Bureau) and last but not least, notifying those receiving incoming cards for the first time who don’t have a file set up. These are usually new hams and those not previously DX active.

The Incoming QSL Bureau is essentially a small business with attendant responsibilities for those managing and processing the cards, and specifically, has a fiduciary responsibility to those who have funds deposited with a sorter for mailing use.