Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer


(Record Group 111)
1860-1982

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 111.1 Administrative History
  • 111.2 General Records of Headquarters 1860-1962
  • 111.3 Records of Headquarters Divisions 1917-54
    • 111.3.1 Records of the Personnel Division
    • 111.3.2 Records of the War Plans and Training Division
    • 111.3.3 Records of the Air Communications Division
    • 111.3.4 Records of the Engineering and Research Division
    • 111.3.5 Records of the Procurement Division
    • 111.3.6 Records of the Fiscal Division
  • 111.4 Records of the Signal Camp of Instruction, Georgetown, DC 1861-65
  • 111.5 Records of the U.S. Military Telegraph Lines, Telegraph Division 1874-98
    • 111.5.1 Records of the New Mexico Division
    • 111.5.2 Records of the Northwestern Division
    • 111.5.3 Records of the Northern Division
    • 111.5.4 Records of the Texas Division
  • 111.6 Records of Signal Corps Activities at Fort Monmouth, NJ 1916-53 (bulk 1942-50)
  • 111.7 Records of Other Signal Corps Field Activities 1909-39
    • 111.7.1 Records of the Alaska Communication System
    • 111.7.2 Records of Signal Corps laboratories
  • 111.8 Records of Signal Corps Companies, Detachments, and Other Units 1863, 1865, 1898-1919
  • 111.9 Cartographic Records (General) 1899-1945
  • 111.10 Motion Pictures (General) 1917-63
  • 111.11 Still Pictures (General) 1860-1982

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111.1 Administrative History

Established: In the War Department, to head the Signal Service, by General Order 56, War Department, August 1, 1866, pursuant to the act fixing the peacetime establishment of the army (14 Stat. 335), July 28, 1866.

Predecessor Agencies:

In the War Department:

  • Signal Officer of the Army (1860-62)
  • Chief Signal Officer (1863-66)

Transfers: To Services of Supply (SOS), effective March 9, 1942, by Circular 59, War Department, March 2, 1942, in War Department reorganization authorized by EO 9082, February 28, 1942; to Army Service Forces (ASF, formerly SOS) by General Order 14, War Department, March 12, 1943; to Director of Service, Supply, and Procurement (DSSP), War Department General Staff (WDGS), as a technical service, effective June 11, 1946, upon abolishment of ASF by Circular 138, War Department, May 14, 1946, in War Department reorganization authorized by EO 9722, May 13, 1946; with WDGS (redesignated Army Staff) to Department of the Army by Circular 1, Department of the Army, September 18, 1947, implementing Circular 225, War Department, August 16, 1947, issued pursuant to a reorganization of the armed services under the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 495), July 26, 1947; to Director of Logistics (formerly DSSP), Army Staff, by Circular 57, Department of the Army, March 4, 1948; with Department of the Army to the Department of Defense, pursuant to the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579), August 10, 1949; to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, Logistics (formerly Director of Logistics), Army Staff, by Circular 12, Department of the Army, February 28, 1950, as confirmed in Special Regulations 10-5-1, Department of the Army, April 11, 1950; to Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (formerly Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, Logistics), Army Staff, by General Order 66, Department of the Army, September 8, 1954; to Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, Army Staff, effective August 1, 1962, by General Order 44, Department of the Army, July 23, 1962.

Functions: Administered the U.S. Army Signal Service (Signal Corps), with overall responsibility for research and development in communications; procurement, testing, and operation of signal equipment; maintenance of signal security; and collection of communications intelligence. Served as principal adviser to the Secretary of War (after 1947 the Secretary of the Army) and the Chief of Staff on all aspects of communications. Provided army motion picture and photographic services. Operated national weather observation system, 1870-90. Responsible for aviation development, 1914-18.

Abolished: By General Order 28, Department of the Army, February 28, 1964.

Successor Agencies: Chief of Communications-Electronics, Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations (1964-67); Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications-Electronics (1967-74); Director of Telecommunications and Command and Control, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (1974-78); Assistant Chief of Staff for Automation and Communications (1978-81); Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers) (1981-84); Assistant Chief of Staff for Information Management (1984-87); Director of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (1987- ).

Finding Aids: Mabel E. Deutrich, comp., Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, PI 155 (1963); Mabel E. Deutrich, comp., "Supplement to Preliminary Inventory No. 155, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (Record Group 111)," NM 77 (1967); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the Army Air Forces, RG 18.
Records of the Weather Bureau, RG 27.
Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), RG 120.
Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920, RG 393.
Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1920-1942, RG 394.
Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898-1942, RG 395.

Note: Additional records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, not described in this chapter, have recently been reallocated from RG 338, Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter). Some of these records have been transferred to regional archives. Please consult the National Archives to determine the contents of these records and their current location.

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111.2 General Records of Headquarters
1860-1962

History: Signal officer of the army, responsible under the Secretary of War for "all signal duty," created by General Order 18, War Department, July 9, 1860, implementing provisions of the appropriation act for fiscal year 1861 (12 Stat. 66), June 21, 1860. Signal Service established by General Order 21, War Department, February 26, 1862, pursuant to an act of February 22, 1862 (12 Stat. 344). Position of Chief Signal Officer, to head "the signal corps of the army" for the duration of the Civil War, established by General Order 73, War Department, March 24, 1863, implementing section 17 of the Civil Appropriation Act for fiscal years 1863-64 (12 Stat. 753), March 3, 1863. Signal Corps and position of Chief Signal Officer lapsed by failure of appropriations, June 30, 1866. Reconstituted on a permanent basis by the act of July 28, 1866, and implementing general order. See 111.1.

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111.2.1 Correspondence

Textual Records: Letters sent, 1860-69. Letters and telegrams sent, 1898-99. Letters and telegrams received, 1861-69, with registers. Messages sent and received, 1862-64. Endorsements, 1863-70. Intercepted letters, 1864-65. General correspondence, 1889-1917, with indexes; and 1917-57. Cablegrams, 1918-20. Correspondence relating to cipher systems, 1868-70; instruments and methods of signaling, 1887-93; accounts and supplies, 1891- 93; and the maintenance of fixed communication networks, 1915-39.

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111.2.2 Issuances

Textual Records: Orders and circulars, 1861-69, 1882-89, 1898- 1907. U.S. Army training manuals, 1923-28. Signal Corps manuals, 1902-18. Signal Corps pamphlets and regulations, 1918-27. Signal Corps bulletins, 1920-30. Miscellaneous War Department and Signal Corps issuances, 1914-34.

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111.2.3 Personnel records

Textual Records: Correspondence relating to personnel of the Volunteer Signal Corps, Spanish-American War, 1898-99. Military histories of Signal Corps officers, 1860-67, and enlisted men, 1861-65. Descriptive books, 1861-65, 1869-97. Recruiting records, 1862-65. Reports relating to instruction in signaling, 1889-91. Record book of enlisted men instructed in military signaling, 1869-71. Lectures by Signal Corps officers relating to Signal Corps activities, 1934-38. Recommendations for appointment as Signal Reserve Officers, 1923. Records relating to the selection of sergeants for commissions, 1878-86. Records relating to the transfer or assignment of personnel to the Signal Corps, 1861-64. Synopses of court-martial cases, 1876-90. Miscellaneous records relating to personnel matters, 1898-1901. Lists of Signal Corps officers and men, 1861-65, 1886.

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111.2.4 Miscellaneous records

Textual Records: Historical files, 1908-62. Annual reports, 1862- 70, 1874-77, 1879-90, 1898-1919. Inspection reports, 1863-66. Extracts from inspection reports, 1890-97. Reports of operations, 1860-66. Records relating to Signal Corps organization, casualties, equipment, and instruction, 1860-69. Papers of Lt. Louis R. Fortescue, 1862-65. Records relating to plans proposed for signal systems, n.d. Revised edition of Signal Corps telegraph cipher, 1875. Records of the U.S. Veteran Signal Corps Association, consisting of scrapbooks, 1882-1919; and papers of association president J.E. Hyneman, 1899-1911. "Estimates and Digests of Appropriations," 1890-1919. Papers relating to the lawsuit of Gen. George O. Squier against American Telephone and Telegraph Co., 1901-23. Reports relating to the development of radio telegraph equipment, radar, and photography, 1918-39. Laboratory reports, 1919-42. Records of the Regional and International Telecommunications Convention, 1920-50. Records relating to "Defense Days," 1924-25. Report on exhibits for the Signal Corps mobilization test, 1936. Records of the Army Pigeon Service Agency, 1940-46. Intelligence files, 1942-48. Scientific and Engineering Manpower Study Group files, 1953-56.

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111.3 Records of Headquarters Divisions
1917-54

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111.3.1 Records of the Personnel Division

Textual Records: Correspondence relating to Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) unit training, 1919-22.

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111.3.2 Records of the War Plans and Training Division

Textual Records: Central correspondence, 1920-42. Correspondence of the Air Warning Section, 1939-42.

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111.3.3 Records of the Air Communications Division

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1941-42.

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111.3.4 Records of the Engineering and Research Division

Textual Records: Research and development case files, 1918-54. Report on line equipment developed in Great Britain, 1940-41. Cablegrams sent and received by the Radio Development Section, 1917-19.

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111.3.5 Records of the Procurement Division

Textual Records: Records relating to division activities during World War I, 1917-19. Records relating to Signal Corps equipment, 1917-19. Estimates for Signal Corps appropriations, 1917-18. Minutes of the Board of Contract Review, 1918. Minutes of meetings of the Signal Corps Procurement Committee, 1926-39. Statistical reports compiled by the Statistics and History Department relating to basic signal equipment required by the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France, 1918. Organization, production, and overseas requirement charts, 1918- 19. Contracts with telephone companies, 1918-19.

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111.3.6 Records of the Fiscal Division

Textual Records: Correspondence relating to budget estimates and justifications, 1930-40.

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111.4 Records of the Signal Camp of Instruction, Georgetown, DC
1861-65

Textual Records: Letters sent and received, 1863-65. Issuances, 1862-65. Endorsements, 1864-65. Court-martial records, Signal Camp of Instruction, Georgetown, DC, and Middle Military Department, 1862-65. Morning reports, descriptive rolls and books, registers of deaths, and other records, 1861-65.

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111.5 Records of the U.S. Military Telegraph Lines, Telegraph
Division
1874-98

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111.5.1 Records of the New Mexico Division

Textual Records: Letters and telegrams sent, 1876-80, and received, 1876-81. Registers of telegrams sent, letters received, and telegraph messages received, 1876-81. Letters sent by the office at Socorro, NM, 1879-81. Letters received and retained reports of telegraph operators, 1876-81. Daily logs of line repairs, 1877-80. Abstracts of daily line reports, 1879-80. Miscellaneous records and reports, 1876-80.

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111.5.2 Records of the Northwestern Division

Textual Records: Letters sent, 1878-85. Letters received, 1879- 84. Special orders, 1878-85. Miscellaneous reports received, 1878-85.

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111.5.3 Records of the Northern Division

Textual Records: Letters and endorsements sent, 1890-95. Letters received, 1888-93. Telegraph line and journal reports, property returns, and line receipts, 1888-98. Letters sent by signal operators at Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, 1880-91; Bismarck, Dakota Territory, 1874-87; Tobacco Gardens, Dakota Territory, 1883-89; Fort Totten, Dakota Territory, 1882-87; Fort Keogh, Montana Territory, 1879-83; and Miles City, Montana Territory, 1882-83. Messages sent by signal officers at Bismarck, 1881; Fort Totten, 1884-88; and Toby, Montana Territory, 1882-83. Endorsements sent by signal operators at Bismarck, 1881; and Miles City, 1882-83. Letters received by signal operators at Fort Totten, 1882-89, with registers, 1882-87. Registers of letters received by signal operators at Bismarck, 1874-85; Fort Keogh, 1879-83; Miles City, 1882-83; and Fort McKinney, Wyoming Territory, 1888-92.

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111.5.4 Records of the Texas Division

Textual Records: Telegram messages sent by El Paso, TX, office, 1881.

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111.6 Records of Signal Corps Activities at Fort Monmouth, NJ
1916-53 (bulk 1942-50)

Textual Records:Records of garrison headquarters, Fort Monmouth, including decimal files, 1943-49, and historical reports, 1918-46. Records of the Signal School, including decimal files, 1947-50, and records of the Officer Candidate Department and the Officer Candidate School, 1951-53. Records of the Eastern Signal Corps Training Center, 1942-46. Combined records of Signal Corps engineering laboratories, including monthly and annual reports, 1920-49; progress reports, 1931-50; summary reports of research and development projects, 1943-50; research and development project records, 1928-51; records relating to foreign and captured enemy equipment, 1941-50; and decimal files, 1919-50. Records of the Squier Signal Laboratory, including administrative records, 1946-50; and general engineering reports, 1931-45. Administrative records of the Long Branch Signal Laboratory, 1944-45. Records of the Evans Signal Laboratory, including technical memorandums and reports, 1942-46; research and development project records, 1942-51; and decimal files, 1940-45. Administrative records of the Toms River Signal Laboratory, 1942-43. Records of the Eatontown Signal Laboratory, including engineering reports and memorandums, 1943-45; and decimal files, 1942-45. Records of the Coles Signal Laboratory, including engineering reports, 1942-46; research and development project records, 1943-54; and decimal files, 1940-45 and 1950. Records of the Detroit Signal Laboratory, including administrative records, 1942-45; and decimal files, 1942-45. Records of the Signal Corps Publication Agency, including decimal files, 1951-53.

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111.7 Records of Other Signal Corps Field Activities
1909-39

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111.7.1 Records of the Alaska Communication System

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1909-39 (in Anchorage).

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111.7.2 Records of Signal Corps laboratories

Textual Records: Annual reports of the laboratory at Wright Field (Dayton, OH), 1930-39. Records of the laboratory at Fort Monmouth, NJ, consisting of a history, 1918; instruction pamphlets, 1918-30; and annual reports, 1936-39.

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111.8 Records of Signal Corps Companies, Detachments, and Other Units
1863, 1865, 1898-1919, 1941-64

Textual Records: Morning reports of Signal Corps detachments, 1863, 1865. Muster rolls, 1898-1912. Returns of signal companies, 1899-1916. Weekly reports of distribution of Signal Corps units, 1918. Histories of 3d Army Corps, AEF, and of the 412th Telegraph Battalion, 1918-19. Records of the Baltimore, MD, Signal Depot; the Holabird, MD, Signal Depot; the Philadelphia, PA, Signal Depot; the Philadelphia, PA, Signal Procurement District; and the Philadelphia, PA, Signal Stock Control Agency (in Philadelphia). Records of the Chicago, IL, Signal Corps Inspection Zone, 1944-45; the Chicago, IL, Signal Depot, 1942-45; the Decatur,IL, Signal Depot, 1946-61; the Chicago, IL, Signal Procurement District, 1944-45; and the Dayton, OH, Signal Supply Agency, 1943-45 (in Chicago). Records of the Lexington, KY, Signal and Army Depot, 1941-64 (in Atlanta). Records of the 801st Signal Base Depot, Fort Rucker, AL, 1961-62 (in Atlanta). Records of the Seattle, WA, Signal Depot (in Seattle). Records of the Los Angeles, CA, Signal Depot (in Los Angeles). Records of the Boston, MA, Signal Depot, 1942-45 (in Boston). Records of the San Francisco, CA, Cost Analysis Agency; and the Sacramento, CA, Signal Depot (in San Francisco).

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111.9 Cartographic Records (General)
1899-1945

Maps: United States and the Pacific region, showing military radio system networks in the United States and connections to Alaska, Hawaii, Panama, the Philippines, and China, 1934 (1 item). United States, showing telephone circuits leased by the U.S. Army, 1942 (1 item). Published maps of Alaska, showing progress of army telegraph and cable systems and U.S. connecting lines, 1902-20 (6 items). Published maps of the Philippine Islands, showing progress in erecting telegraph lines and cables, 1899-1904 (6 items). Cuba, showing telegraph lines and offices operated and then abandoned by the U.S. Government, 1899 (1 item). Camp Alfred Vail (later Fort Monmouth), NJ, site of a Signal Corps school, 1918 (1 item). Aviation field at Buffalo, NY, and Park Aviation Field, TN, 1918 (2 items). France, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, and the city of Paris, published commercially in France (including Carte Nouvelle de France, by Taride), some stamped as being stored in the library of the Signal School, Camp Alfred Vail, NJ, 1916-25 (55 items). German military signal communication tracing overlays of unidentified World War I maps relating to German messenger, mounted messenger, signal rocket, smoke pot, and radio station networks, 1918 (17 items). Drill regulation plans, showing typical positions of units and mounted units in a Signal Corps field battalion, telegraph battalion, motorized telegraph battalion, radio company, and wagon section, 1917 (24 items). France, showing teletype lines connecting Headquarters European Theater of Operations United States Army (ETOUSA) and Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) with other commands and military units and "COMZ" section boundaries and lines, April-May 1945 (3 items).

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111.10 Motion Pictures (General)
1917-63

Historical films relating primarily to World War I, 1917-30 (1,550 reels). World War I and later films ("Miscellaneous Series"), 1918-47 (2,491 reels). World War II information, orientation, and combat training films, and staff information reports, 1939-45 (2,413 reels). U.S. Army training films, 1941-46 (2,170 reels). World War II training and combat films ("ADC Film"), 1941-51 (10,641 reels), with card catalog. Library copy documentary motion pictures ("LC" series), 1951-63 (3,000 reels), with caption sheets, card catalog, and depository log, 1950-57. News releases on defense-related subjects ("Army DD Release Films"), 1951-53 (625 reels), with accompanying film summaries. Ceremonies and parades for the inaugurations of Presidents Harry S. Truman, 1949 (82 reels), and Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 (11 reels).

Finding Aids: K. Jack Bauer, comp., List of World War I Signal Corps Films, SL 14 (1957).

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111.11 Still Pictures (General)
1860-1982

Photographic Prints: Collection of Maj. Gen. Adolphus W. Greeley, Chief Signal Officer (1882-1906), consisting principally of images of U.S. military operations in the Philippine Islands (1899-1905), but including also portraits of prominent individuals; personal views; balloon operations at Point Judith, RI (1902); Valdez, AK (1902); and San Francisco, CA, during and after the earthquake (1906), 1860-1935 (ACA, ACB, ACC, ACD, ACE, ACF, ACG, ACH, ACI, ACJ; 2,175 images). Japanese capture of the German treaty port at Tsingtao, China, 1914 (J, 18 images). Displays of U.S. Army equipment in War Department exhibits at the Pan American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, 1901; the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, MO, 1904; the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, Norfolk, VA, 1907; the Alaska-Yukon- Pacific Exposition, Seattle, WA, 1909; and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, CA, 1915 (EV, 156 images). Scenes of World War I battlefields in France, 1919 (WM, 760 images). Harry S. Truman, 1918-56 (T, 116 images). Portrait of Secretary of War Elihu Root, ca. 1900 (ER, 1 image). Federal buildings and monuments in Washington, DC, 1934-53 (WDC, 73 images). Gravestones of World War II military personnel, 1952 (GM, 1,600 images). Signal Corps Provisional Regiment, 1917 (PR, 1 image). Signal Corps radio and telephone equipment, 1917, 1934 (RT, 88 images).

Photographic Prints, Negatives, and Transparencies: Color and black-and-white images, including reproductions of paintings, sketches, and artifacts, documenting the U.S. Army from the French and Indian War (1754) through the post-Vietnam War period, including images relating to the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Indian wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, China Relief Expedition, Mexican Punitive Expedition, World Wars I and II, and Korean War; prominent civil and military figures; army installations, training, maneuvers, ceremonies, unit flags, uniforms and equipment, engineering projects, and expeditions; and charts and maps, 1860-1981 (C, CCA, CCS, CPF, CRB, FF, KV, LP, MP, MC, SC, SCA; 1,219,807 images). Military and prominent civilian personages, 1863-1982 (BG, CCE, CCG, CCP, O, P, PC, PP; 88,622 images). Activities in Korea, 1958-81 (CCK, 2,610 images). Activities in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, 1958-62 (CCV, CTC, VNP; 19,700 images). Mathew B. Brady collection of glass plate negatives and photographic prints, consisting of views of the Civil War and portraits of eminent persons, 1861-70 (B, 5,500 images); portraits of Union officers, ca. 1864 (BZ, 100 images); and supplementary collection of photographic copies of paintings, sketches, and drawings, including original negatives by George N. Barnard, Corps of Engineers, showing Union and Confederate fortifications in Atlanta, GA, 1861-74 (BA, 2,300 images). Civil War transport ships, copied from files of the Quartermaster General, 1864 (QM, 99 images). "Red Book Collection," documenting U.S. Army operations, with emphasis upon Signal Corps, its activities in Alaska, and its role in aviation, but including also views of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, IL (1893); Sino-Japanese War (1894); and U.S. troops during the Boxer Rebellion (1900), Spanish-American War (1898-99), and Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), 1893-1918 (RB, 4,500 images).

Photographic Negatives: Panoramas of World War I AEF cemeteries, 1925 (WC, 210 images). Signal Corps photographic techniques and equipment, 1929-34 (L, 39 images). U.S. military personnel and Department of Defense staff, ca. 1952-74 (PO, 187 images).

Filmstrips: Used for training and informational purposes, 1939-45 (FS, 412 items).

Microfilm Publications: T252.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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