Aerial Photography in Record Group 120: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I)

Aerial photography in Record Group 120: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces covers World War I. The Cartographic Branch holds approximately 16,000 photographs in the series Aerial Photographs, 1918 - ca. 1920. This series includes photographs of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

These photographs are partially described in a finding aid, available in the Cartographic Research Room and digitally.  

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RG 120, Aerial Photographs finding aid database

You can search the finding aid by country, location, date and military unit. Box numbers are listed for the described photographs.

Indexes in the series RG 120: Aerial Photography Indexes, 1918 - ca. 1920 can be used to locate photographs of specific areas in France. We have a finding aid onsite in our research room and available digitally which lists which areas the indexes cover. You can then request the indexes in the Cartographic Research Room and use them to see available photographs. 

After locating photographs of interest from the indexes or the finding aid, you can request specific boxes or photographs.



While this is the main series of aerial photography for RG 120, the following series also include aerial photographs:

Aerial Photographs of Operations with Interpretations, 1917 - 1919

French General Staff Maps, 1917 - ca. 1919

German Aerial Photo Maps, 1917 - ca. 1919

Guides to the Interpretation of World War I Aerial Photographs , 1918 - ca. 1920

Italian Army Maps and Photographs, ca. 1917 - ca. 1918

Map Indexes, Registers, and Studies, 1917 - 1919

Records Related to Allied and Enemy Military Operations, 1917 - 1919

Records Relating to Aerial Bombing Targets, ca. 1918 - ca. 1920


Each catalog description includes information about what is included in each series as well as how they are arranged and if there are finding aids available.

You can also search the Cartographic guide to World War I records, Preliminary Inventory 165, in the Cartographic Research Room or digitally by request by emailing

You can view and copy these photographs in the Cartographic Research Room. We have light tables which allow you to view the film and take photographs on a personal camera. We also have aerial film scanners available. If you have a USB capable laptop, you can bring it to our research room and scan the photographs to your computer. You can learn more about aerial film reproductions here.

If you have any questions about these photographs, you can contact the Cartographic Branch at