Part I

A Finding Aid to Audiovisual Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to World War II

Table of Contents

Part I: Records of Federal Agencies, Record Groups 15-95

[For more information about the motion pictures and sound recordings described here, contact the Special Media Archives Services Division, Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Unit, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740. Telephone: 301-837-0526 Email:]

[For more information about the records identified here as 'still pictures' , contact the Special Media Archives Services Division, Still Picture Unit, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740. Telephone: 301-837-0561 Email:]

Contents by Record Group (RG) Number
RG 15 Records of the Veterans Administration

    15.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Veterans Administration include several hundred photographs showing postwar medical and rehabilitation services for World War II veterans. (MFS)

RG 16 Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture

    16.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Office of the Secretary include approximately 300 photographs recording experiments in the growing and harvesting of guayule for the Guayule Emergency Rubber Project; and showing Victory Farm Volunteers, Women's Land Army members, soldiers harvesting crops; German prisoners of war on Georgia farms; victory gardens; food- rationing programs; food shipments bound for Allied countries; and rubber and scrap metal campaigns. Also included in the records are 25 photographs showing the activities of the War Hemp Industries, Inc., in the cultivation and processing of hemp. (N, G, WH)

RG 18 Records of the Army Air Forces

    18.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Army Air Forces (AAF) include approximately 26,000 photographs taken by the Overseas Technical Unit of the Air Transport Command. The photographs were taken along air flight routes and show route maps and navigational beacons, landmarks, topographical features, and scenic views of areas in the United States and other countries. Other photographs show command facilities and bases, airfields, and military and civilian personnel. Also included in the records are photographs of domestic and foreign aircraft, and graduates of AAF flight schools, including Tuskegee Air Field, AL, AAF officers. (AG, AM, AO, MO, ZC, WP, P, PU, T)

    18.2 Motion Pictures. Films from the Army Air Forces (AAF) consist of combat records, outtakes, information films, newsreels, and a few documentaries. Air Transport Command footage, made under the general supervision of Lt. Col. Pare Lorentz, includes outtakes and edited briefing films for pilots. The over 700 black and white subjects filmed between April 1943 and July 1945 show aerial and ground views of terrain, flight routes, and landing facilities in the North and South Atlantic, Europe, India, China, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Africa, the British Isles, Alaska, the Canal Zone, and the United States. Outtakes generally show routes between mainline and offline points; some examples are flight points between Maiduguri and Khartoum, Algiers and Tripoli, and Cairo and Teheran. The Air Transport Command series is a valuable geographical record. Another large series of outtakes, Combat Film Subjects, consists of approximately 3,000 subjects. This 35mm, black and white, generally silent footage, was cataloged on a shot-by-shot basis by the Army Air Forces, and dates from December 1942 to September 1945. The series contains extensive gun-camera footage of Army Air Forces raids, such as those over Naples and Messina, New Guinea and Northern Burma, the Aleutian Islands, Ploesti, France and Germany, Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok, and many other sites. Also included is footage on supply missions, particularly in the China-Burma-India theater; ground operations; Allied conferences, such as the one at Casablanca; major leaders; troop shows, including those of Glenn Miller and Bob Hope; and bomb damage in Okinawa, Tokyo, and Yokohama. Color outtakes from "Thunderbolts," a 1946 William Wyler production, document activities of the 12th Army Air Force in Europe, June 1944-April 1945. These outtakes are combined with other color footage showing the Allied military operations in Europe from the invasion of Normandy to the defeat and occupation of Germany.

    18.3 Edited newsreel-type films from the AAF include the Combat Weekly Digest. The 100 issues, each generally 20 minutes in length, show bombing missions in both the European and Pacific theaters of war, including raids over France, Italy, and Germany. One issue includes captured German film of the Ploesti raid. The Combat Weekly Digest also contains considerable footage of Indochina, including Haiphong, the Burma Road, the "Hump," and Thailand. Much of the source for the Combat Weekly Digest series is from the Combat Film Subjects file described above. Other edited films are the Combat Film Reports, which contain more detailed reports on specific subjects, such as the evacuation of wounded in New Guinea, the salvaging of a P-40, a smokescreen demonstration, photo reconnaissance, treatment of Japanese prisoners of war before interrogation, lend-lease aid to Russia, and the Casino bombing. Some of the longer reports are "Target System for the Destruction of Axis Oil," which describes a study of the Axis Powers' petroleum industry by the AAF Bombardment Advisory Commission; "Target Planning," a study of Germany's ball- and roller-bearing industry; "Liberandos," about the second major raid against the Ploesti oilfields in Romania; "Expansion to Air Power," a general treatment of the growth of the AAF; and "Mission to Rabaul, 12 October 1943," on operations of the 5th Army Air Force in New Guinea leading to the bombing of Rabaul, New Britain.

    18.4 The Army Air Forces Training Films dramatize the training and experience of personnel in various military capacities and illustrate the design, inspection, maintenance, installation, and operation of AAF equipment. Some, for example, give instructions on the inspection, maintenance, and installation of piston rings, propellers, landing gear assemblies, C-1 autopilots, and fuel booster pumps. Flying operations of many military aircraft, including the B-17, B-25, P-39, P-40, and P-47, are also described in Army Air Forces Training Films.

    18.5 Sound Recordings. The 91 recordings of radio programs in The Fighting AAF and Your AAF series were created to promote enlistment in the AAF and increase industrial production. Included are eyewitness accounts of combat and on-the-spot air-combat accounts obtained by radio reporters in all theaters of operation.

RG 19 Records of the Bureau of Ships

    19.1 Still Pictures. Among the Bureau records are approximately 100,000 photographs documenting the construction, alteration, repair, and sea trials of U.S. Navy ships. Several thousand of these photographs relate to the World War II period and include identification views of ships; keel-laying and launching ceremonies; ship models and mockups; shipyards; and British and other foreign navy vessels. A few of the photographs record battles and other events of the war. (N, LC, LCA, LCM, X, NV, SB)

RG 24 Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel

    24.1 Still Pictures. Included in the records of the Bureau are 127 recruitment posters, ca. 1943-44. Some of the posters encourage women to join the WAVES and men to join the Navy's construction battalions (Seabees). (DP, PO)

    24.2 Sound Recordings. The Bureau's holdings include one recording of a dramatization of the role of sailors in the war.

RG 26 Records of the U.S. Coast Guard

    26.1 Still Pictures. Among the pictorial records of the Coast Guard are about 5,000 photographs relating to World War II. These photographs show officers and crews of the Coast Guard, ships and boats used by the Guard, European and Pacific theater battles, the D-Day invasion, domestic wartime duties, Allied vessels, and Japanese merchant vessels. (G, SAN, SJ)

    26.2 Motion Pictures. The relatively few Coast Guard films in NARA custody that deal directly with the war mainly show the Coast Guard's preparations for the defense of U.S. shores. "Carry the Fight" and "Serving the Merchant Marine" show the Coast Guard's role in antisubmarine warfare. Two films describe the Coast Guard's activities overseas, including its part in the Normandy invasion. "Story of a Transport" is about the transformation of the luxury liner Manhattan to the troop carrier Wakefield.

RG 30 Records of the Bureau of Public Roads

    30.1 Still Pictures. The Bureau's records contain approximately 1,500 photographs documenting the construction of the Alaska Highway by the Army's Corps of Engineers and other Government agencies. (N)

RG 33 Records of the Extension Service

    33.1 Still Pictures. Of the roughly 28,000 photographs in two series, possibly a few dozen relate to World War II. Included are photographs pertaining to the work of the Women's Land Army and Victory Farm Volunteers, and to conservation and production campaigns. (S, SC)

RG 35 Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps

    35.1 Still pictures. The records contain 82 photographs documenting demonstrations conducted in 1942 on how to fight incendiary bomb fires and decontaminate poison gases. (CD)

RG 38 Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

    38.1 Still Pictures. Among the approximately 8,600 photographs from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations are 300 portraits of Allied leaders, diplomats, and military officers taken by Maurice Constant. Several hundred additional photographs illustrate naval training, the preparation of equipment for shipment overseas, anti-mine and torpedo devices, and mine warfare tests, and document aircraft manufactured for the Navy. Other photographs show the coastal features of the Marshall, Caroline, and Mariana Islands. (MCN, MCP, NS, SNT, LT, AC, MW)

    38.2 Sound Recordings. Recordings include 47 radio broadcasts relating to all aspects of the war but concerning mainly the Pacific theater of operations. Included are war correspondents' and fighting men's eyewitness accounts of battles, bombing raids, air operations (described from aboard a carrier), Marine Corps operations in jungles, the bombardment of Japan as observed from aboard a battleship, and the funeral of Ernie Pyle on Io Shima. Other recordings concern production for the war effort, the role of women in the shipbuilding industry, war bond promotion, radio-telephone conversations between tanks as they advance in battle, interviews with crewmen aboard a submarine, a report to Congress by General Eisenhower on the progress of the war in Europe, and the recording of a V-E Day celebration. Also in the collection are 148 psychological warfare recordings in German, Japanese, and English, including talks by United States military personnel, news, anti-Fascist messages, and communications from German prisoners of war read by announcers to friends and families in Germany.

RG 44 Records of the Office of Government Reports

    44.1 Still Pictures. The Office of Government Reports assembled and distributed materials relating to war-effort campaigns and programs. Among its records are approximately 4,000 posters, photographs of posters, and newsmaps describing the progress of the war. Some of the posters were produced by foreign information offices and war-relief associations in the United States. Also among the records are photographs of defense production that were used in Office of Emergency Management films. (PA, PAA, PF, NM, F)

RG 47 Records of the Social Security Administration

    47.1 Still Pictures. Administration records include approximately three dozen photographs filed under "Workers," showing women working in war industries and men in the armed forces. (G)

RG 48 Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior

    48.1 Sound Recordings. Holdings consist of 145 recordings of speeches, discussions, interviews, news reports, and ceremonies, many of them broadcasts made by the Department or collected from other Government agencies and commercial sources, concerning the role of women workers in the war effort and the contributions of civilians, including Jews and immigrants. Included are recordings about activities of the Office of Price Administration, the War Resources Planning Board, the War Production Board, the National Defense Advisory Commission, the Office of Alien Property, and the Selective Service System, and recordings about wartime development of industry, aeronautics, scientific research, and atomic energy. Also included are newscasts about many aspects of the war, the Allies and their contributions to the war: Hitler's speeches at Sudeten in 1938 and Danzig in 1939, and President Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech on December 8, 1941.

RG 49 Records of the Bureau of Land Management

    49.1 Still Pictures. The records contain 35 photographs showing buildings and structures at the War Relocation Authority Centers in Manzanar, CA, and Tule Lake, CA. (RC)

RG 52 Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

    52.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Bureau contain approximately 300 photographs showing facilities and treatment at U.S. Navy hospitals in Normandy, France, and in southern England. Also included in the records are photographs of Navy Nurse Corps uniforms. (G, NNU)

RG 54 Records of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering

    54.1 Still Pictures. The Bureau records contain almost 300 photographs relating to the development of machinery for use in guayule and kok-saghyz production. Also included are approximately 6,000 photographs recording Bureau experiments in growing guayule and other rubber-producing plants, hevea, and hemp substitutes, 1942-48. (M, SA, SK, RH, RR, RRK)

RG 56 General Records of the Department of the Treasury

    56.1 Still Pictures. Among the approximately 400 posters from the U.S. Savings Bond Division are numerous posters created to boost the sale of war bonds. Also in the records are four filmstrips used to promote war-bond sales. (SP, FS)

    56.2 Motion Pictures. The Treasury Department made extensive use of incentive films to encourage financial support of the national defense program through the purchase of defense bonds and stamps. Most of these films were made in cooperation with other Government agencies or with private film producers. Short films, such as "Justice," show enemy atrocities and explain how war production and war bonds help defeat the enemy and contribute to victory. Also included among the Department's records is the film "Fury in the Pacific," which describes the capture of the Palau Islands of Peleliu and Angaur and enumerates the cost in lives and munitions.

    56.3 Sound Recordings. Recordings include radio broadcasts promoting the purchase of defense and Victory bonds. Broadcasts consist of dramatic and musical programs featuring many prominent entertainers, and of speeches by prominent political leaders of the United States, key Government personnel, and Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

RG 59 General Records of the Department of State

    59.1 Still Pictures. The wartime records of the Department include photographs of Department officials and visiting diplomats at ceremonies and conferences; photographs of the damaged German battleship Graf Spee; two British posters; photographs of the Swedish Red Cross ship Gripsholm, with American, Canadian, German and Japanese repatriates embarking and disembarking, Red Cross supplies being loaded on board; and photographs of Japanese internees at Camp Kennedy, TX. In addition, about 3,000 photographs show war surplus and lend-lease material and the activities of the Department's Office of Foreign Liquidation Commissioner. (JB, BF, RAG, TLC, CTR)

    59.2 Motion Pictures. War-related films from the records of the Department of State come from several sources: the Department itself, other Government agencies, and private film producers. Of the many Office of War Information films the Department acquired for overseas use, most are about the United States, its regions, its towns, and its people. The American Scene series contains such films as "The Town," by Joseph von Sternberg, about the landmarks and people of Madison, IN; "Cowboys," about the modern West; "A Journey," shows cooperative efforts to solve such wartime problems as housing and overtime work; "News Review No. 1," about worldwide war-related activities, December 1941-February 1943; and "The War, 1941-1944," is a 1-hour compilation of newsreel and archival footage. The State Department used many of these films to explain the American way of life to the peoples of Allied and neutral nations and to describe the U.S. role in the war. American motion pictures among these records include "The Fighting Dutch," "Unconquered Norway," and "Girls Behind the Guns."

RG 60 General Records of the Department of Justice

    60.1 Sound Recordings. After the fall of Berlin, 592 recordings were confiscated and turned over to the Justice Department. These consist of propaganda broadcasts made by American citizens during the war, using facilities of the German Radio Broadcasting Corp. These broadcasts were later introduced in evidence at the treason trials of Herbert John Burgman, Douglas Chandler, and Robert Best. The fourth man mentioned in the broadcasts, Frederick Wilhelm Kaltenbach, was reported by the Russians to have died in their zone.

RG 64 Records of the National Archives and Records Administration

    64.1 Still Pictures. Only a few of the photographs of the National Archives and Records Administration relate to World War II. Included are pictures of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, a Japanese "Purple" decoding machine, and U.S. Army personnel processing captured German records in the late 1950's. (M, FDRL, D)

    64.2 Sound Recordings. These consist of the tape-recorded proceedings of the National Archives Conference on Captured German and Related Records, held November 12 and 13, 1968, and the National Archives Conference on Research on the Second World War, held June 14 and 15, 1971.

RG 65 Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

    65.1 Still Pictures. FBI records include several photographs relating to the capture and trial of German saboteurs in 1942, and copies of maps showing the defe- nses of Pearl Harbor and Oahu, Hawaii, in 1939 and 1941. Also included are several original cartoons presented to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that relate to spies and saboteurs, fifth columnists, black-marketers, and draft dodgers. (H, HM, HC)

RG 66 Records of the Commission of Fine Arts

    66.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Commission contain six photographs showing war memorials and cemeteries in France. (G)

RG 69 Records of the Work Projects Administration

    69.1 Still Pictures. A few series in the records of the Work Projects Administration contain about 500 photographs relating to World War II. Some of the photographs show Administration defense construction projects, such as the building of airports, arsenals, armories, military barracks, training camps, navy yards, and pistol and artillery ranges. Also included are photographs of housing and child care centers for families working in defense industries, and of training programs for war jobs. (N, NS, F, DC, PWA, B, C)

RG 71 Records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks

    71.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Bureau consist of over 178,000 photographs. Approximately 60,000 relate to the World War II period and show the construction of U.S. Naval Shore Establishments, including navy yards, air stations, submarine bases, coaling stations, and training camps in the United States and other countries. The records also include approximately 700 photographs showing Seabees in training and at work, and photographs recording the construction of floating drydocks, lighters and barges, docks, bridges, and breakwaters. (CA, CB, CC, CD, CDD, CCF, CF, JRS, SB, SBE, TDM, NS)

RG 72 Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics

    72.1 Still Pictures. Of the approximately 21,000 photographs in the Bureau records documenting the design, testing, and construction of aircraft manufactured for the U.S. Navy are several thousand relating to World War II aircraft. (AC)

RG 75 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

    75.1 Still Pictures. Though not easily identified, several photographs of American Indians serving in the armed forces are interspersed throughout at least two series. (N, PU)

RG 77 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers

    77.1 Still Pictures. Approximately 330 photographs collected by the Manhattan Engineering District are in the records. The photographs show atomic bomb damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also in the records are a few photographs showing Corps of Engineers personnel and equipment and German ordnance. (AEC, MDH, RHEO, AQ, VH)

    77.2 Motion Pictures. Records consist of five reels of unedited color and black and white film, one of which remains classified, relating to the Trinity Project, the development of the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico, under the Manhattan Engineering District.

RG 79 Records of the National Park Service

    79.1 Still Pictures. Fifteen photographs show troops hiking and visiting national parks and convalescing at the Navy hospital in Yosemite National Park. The Abbie Rowe Collection also contains a few photographs showing some of the wartime ac- tivities of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, including Roosevelt signing the declaration of war and Truman announcing V-E and V-J Days. (M, AR, XAR)

RG 80 General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1789-1947

    80.1 Still Pictures. A significant portion of the over 700,000 photographs in the records of the Department relate to the Navy's involvement in World War II. Among the many places and events documented are the attack on Pearl Harbor; battles at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Midway, and the Philippine Islands; fighting in and off the coast of North Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean; German U-boats, and Japanese navy and merchant vessels; conferences at Yalta, Teheran, and Potsdam; the Atlantic Charter meeting aboard the U.S.S. Augusta; and Japanese surrender ceremonies aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. Also included are photographs of Navy yards; naval bases and air stations; Navy ships and boats; aircraft; weapons; businesses supplying material to the Navy; Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries of the Navy; officers and seamen; Marines; and women serving in the Navy and Marine Corps. (G, GK, CF, PA, PB, PS, LSM, HT, HL, CASA, PSW, PM, PII, GJS)

    80.2 Motion Pictures. Among the completed Navy films now in NARA custody are "The Battle of Midway," directed by John Ford, "Planes of the U.S. Navy," "Ships of the U.S. Navy," and "Men of the U.S. Navy." Two March of Time films commissioned by the Navy are "The Enemy Japan-The Land" and "The Enemy Japan-The People." Another film shows the Marine Corps invasion of the Solomon Islands. "Target Japan" reviews the status of war as of 1943-44. "The Fleet That Came To Stay" shows the role of Task Force 58 in the battle of Okinawa; "The Fight- ing Lady" is a detailed exposition of life and duties aboard an aircraft carrier just before an engagement with the enemy. Records also include considerable unedited footage of Roosevelt and Churchill at the Atlantic Charter conference.

    80.3 The Navy has transferred to the National Archives a collection of edited Navy films dealing with World War II subjects (ca. 1940-45). In addition to the Navy films, the collection contains a mixture of films that originated with the Army, Marine Corps, Office of Education, commercial enterprises, and foreign countries. The collection also includes a number of films that appear to be outtake footage for either edited films or newsreels. Most of the films are military documentaries, and information and training films; also included are a number of films that deal with medical training.

RG 83 Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics

    83.1 Still Pictures. The Bureau records include several filmstrips relating to agricultural production during World War II. (FS)

RG 84 Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State

    84.1 Still Pictures. Among the records are 102 photographs collected by the U.S. consul general at Batavia, Java, showing the remains of victims of Japanese atrocities, and Japanese political indoctrination programs in Indonesia. (IA, IJ)

RG 86 Records of the Women's Bureau

    86.1 Still Pictures. The records of the Women's Bureau contain about 2,500 photographs showing women working in various occupations, including jobs in defense industries and the military, during World War II. (WWT)

RG 95 Records of the Forest Service

    95.1 Still Pictures. Approximately 1,500 Forest Service photographs document experiments in growing and harvesting guayule in the United States and Mexico for the Guayule Emergency Rubber Project. The records also contain a few posters with World War II-era messages. (GK, RP, SB)

Note: Compiled by Barbara Burger, William Cunliffe, Jonathan Heller, William T. Murphy, and Les Waffin. Published by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. Revised 1992.

This web version, originally created in 1999 and periodically updated, may differ from the paper edition. Possible differences include: updated names of NARA organizational units, corrected errors of fact, and incorporation of new descriptive information. Whenever new descriptive information has been added, it has been coded to display between brackets [] and in italics. In addition, the main text has been artificially split into four parts, by record group, to improve efficiency of storage, retrieval, and use.