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Sources of U.S. Military Images: Major Repositories


Jump to: General Sources (multiple military branches) | Army | Coast Guard | Navy | Air Force and Military Aviation

The Library's collections contain many U.S. military images. However, they generally are not well indexed by military units, type of vehicle, or name of ship. An extensive search might uncover images of interest, but such a search would need to conducted in-person by the researcher or his/her representative. The institutions listed below have specialized collections of military images which are generally well indexed.

General Sources

The following repositories include holdings from multiple branches of the military:

  • The designated repository for all official U.S. military photographs taken before 1982 is the:

    Still Picture Staff
    Media Archives Services Division (NWCS)
    National Archives & Records Administration
    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    Telephone: (301) 837-0561
    Fax: (301) 837-3621

    1,522 images from the collections of the Still Pictures Branch have been reproduced in War & Conflict: Selected Images from the National Archives 1765-1970, edited by Jonathan Heller (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1990). LC Call number: E181.W27 1990
  • Photographs taken since 1982 are considered "active" and are at the following address pending transfer to the National Archives:

    Defense Visual Information Center
    Attn: Still Media Operations
    1363 Z Street, Building 2730
    March Air Force Base, CA 92518-2073
    (951) 413-2522. fax: (951) 413-2525

    A working reference depository of 120,000 still images and 75 million feet of motion picture images. Requires written request with a $20 user fee and specific information (unit, place, event, equipment, size, format).
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
    Stanford University
    Stanford, CA 94305
    telephone (650) 723-2058
    This institution has a large collection of posters, prints, drawings, and photographs, from various countries, with a special focus on the 19th century.
  • Department of Defense, Office of Public Affairs, DDI
    Room 2E765, The Pentagon
    Washington, D.C. 20301-1400
    telephone (703) 697-6162 / 697-6161
    This public affairs office is particularly helpful in providing photographs and information, including of recent events, primarily to the media.
  • Armed Forces History Collection National Museum of American History
    Division of Armed Forces History
    Smithsonian Institution
    AHB 4013 MRC 620
    Washington, D.C. 20560
    telephone (202) 357-1883

    This office is a good source of information on early American military uniforms and has a photograph collection.

  • National Museum of Health and Medicine
    Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Walter Reed Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue at Elder Street, NW, Building 54
    Washington, D.C. 20307
    telephone (202) 782-2200
    Established during the Civil War as the Army Medical Museum, this Museum's collections focus particularly on specimens for research in military medicine and surgery, including the history and practice of American medicine. The museum's collections are made available for the education of medical professionals, Department of Defense personnel, historians, and the public through exhibits in the museum, loans to other institutions, and individualized study.

Particular Branches of the Military

  • Army
    • U.S. Army Center for Military History
      1099 14th St., N.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20005-3402
      This office has custody of the Army War Art collection of paintings, with photographs available of the paintings [telephone (202) 761-5396]. It also has historical information on all U.S. Army Museums [telephone (202) 761-5373.)
    • U.S. Army Military History Institute
      ATTN: Special Collections
      Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013
      telephone (717) 245-3434. Alternate: (717) 245-3197
      Although especially known for its Civil War holdings, this institution has custody of large research collections of photographs on the U.S. Army from 1840 to the present donated by private sources. Includes collections of Omar Bradley and Lewis Blaine Hershey. Coverage is smaller for more recent events such as Desert Storm and Somalia.
    • U.S. Military Academy Library
      Building 757
      West Point, NY 10996-1799
      Special Collections: Mr. Alan Aimone, Military History Specialist (914) 938-2954 Archives: (914) 938-7052
      The Archives includes cadet portraits, 20th century photographs of students, staff, and buildings taken by the White Brothers, and some Signal Corps, UPI, and AP photographs. The Special Collections have uncopyrighted photos of cadets and class photos, 1857 to the present, and alumni files. Coverage in Special Collections includes the Boxer Rebellion, WW I, WW II (Gen. Kruger and Gen. Bradley collections), Korean War, and a small amount of material on the Vietnamese Conflict.
    • Women's Army Corps Museum
      Building 1077
      3rd Street and 5th Avenue
      Fort McClellan, AL 36205-5000
      telephone (205) 848-3512 / 238-3512 / 238-5559
    • George S. Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor
      P.O. Box 208
      Fort Knox, KY 40121
      telephone (502) 624-6350 / 624-3812
    • U.S. Cavalry Museum
      P.O. Box 2160
      Fort Riley, KS 66442
      telephone (913) 239-2737
    • U.S. Army Field Artillery & Fort Sill Museum
      437 Quanah Road
      Fort Sill, OK 73503-5100
      telephone (405) 442-5123
  • Coast Guard
    • Historian's Office (G-CP-4)
      U.S. Coast Guard, Headquarters
      2100 Second Street, S.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20593
      (202) 267-0948
      Holds materials relating to the Coast Guard, 1968 to present
  • Navy
    • U.S. Naval Institute
      Photo Service
      291 Wood Road
      Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
      telephone (410) 295-1022
      This library has a large collection of naval and maritime photographs. Coverage is of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, Marines, and Air Force. Have U.S. and foreign vessels, individuals, and combat photographs. Collections date from Civil War to present.
    • Naval Historical Center (CUP)
      Photo Section
      Washington Navy Yard,
      901 M Street S.E. Building 108
      Washington, D.C. 20374-5060
      telephone (202) 433-2765
      This office has a wealth of information on sources of photographs relating to any aspect of U.S. naval history. Excellent coverage before 1920, good WW II coverage, moderate holdings through Vietnamese Conflict.
  • Air Force and Military Aviation
    • National Air and Space Museum
      Archives Division, MRC322
      Smithsonian Institution
      Washington, D.C. 20560
      telephone (202) 633-2315 or (202) 633-2320
      This office is an excellent source of information about the Air Force photographs held by the National Archives.
Prepared by: Prints and Photographs Division Reference Staff, January 1998. Last revised: April 2000
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  November 30, 2007
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