Domestic Flown Aerial Photography in Record Group 373: Records of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Aerial photographs for RG 373: Records of the Defense Intelligence Agency are in the series Aerial Photographs, 1935 - 1970. Like other series of domestic photographs, you begin the search for these by using Special List 25, available for download digitally here and in the Cartographic Research Room.

For these photographs, the Special List includes the degree square where the indexes can be found, which is based on the geographic coordinates of the county.

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Special List 25, RG 373 Aerial Photographs, Berkshire County, MA

The indexes for these photographs are Overlay Indexes for Aerial Photography. These overlay indexes are filed by degree square. To see if your degree square is available, you can enter it directly into the main search bar in our catalog as shown in the following examples. Latitude must be two digits, longitude must be three digits. (Ex: 43N072W; 37N122W). If you already have your geographic coordinates, you can search for the degree square in the Catalog without needing to first use the Special List.

RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photography Catalog Search Main Page


RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photography Catalog Search Results

RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photography Catalog Search File Unit

To search for coverage using these index overlays, locate your area of interest on the map and place the overlays to line up the 30 minute line and corners to match the map. It can be helpful to place a sticky note on your computer screen on the area of interest on the map so that as you search through the overlays you can match up the area with available coverage.

Please note that while you can zoom in on the map to find a location, you must be zoomed out to the default scale (seen above) to have the map line up with the overlays.


RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photography Overlays Map Zoom


Each overlay represents a flight or part of a flight and each square on the overlays represents a single exposure.

The scale, date, mission number and spot number are almost always included at the top of the overlays. Spot numbers will consist of a letter and number combination usually in parentheses or (Ex: “A1905”). The spot numbers are used to locate the photographic prints or reel of film that the images are on. Please remember that you will need both the spot number and the individual exposure numbers.

RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photographs Overlay 1

RG 373 Domestic Aerial Photography Overlay 2


The numbered boxes on the overlays represent available photographs for the area. The lines connecting the boxes also represent coverage. You would need to estimate the exposure number based on the location between numbered boxes. The overlays also include a symbol for the exposures in the “Total Exp.” field. In this case the symbol is VV.

To locate the photographs, you need a citation with the spot number and exposure number. Using this overlay as an example, a citation would look like the following:

Spot Number 3A-761, Exposure VV-125.

The spot number will lead to a film can using the RG 373 can locator, available digitally by request at and in the Cartographic Research Room.


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RG 373 Aerial Photographs, Can Locator

In this case, Spot Number 3A-761 lead to film cans can ON009207, Barcode 10189490.

Cans with an “ON” identifier are original negatives which are stored at the Lenexa Federal Records Center. These cans can be ordered in the Cartographic Research Room and arrive within three business days. If you already have a researcher card, you can order ON cans ahead of your visit to our site. Some ON cans for this record group are onsite and these are noted in the can locator. Cans with a “DN” identifier can be ordered and viewed on-site.

Once you order the cans at our facility, you can view and copy them 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.


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RG 373, Aerial Photographs, Spot Number A2594, Can DN5260, VV-141

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