Navy Photos, Film, Maps and Electronic Records - Navy
Special Media Collections
The National Archives has several Special Media Branches that contain images, motion pictures, sound recordings, drawings, maps and electronic records that relate to the United States Navy. There are several online research guides relating to special media collections, and a few of the branches have digital collections available.
Still Photographs and Graphic Works
The Still Picture Branch has many images of ships, aircraft, bases, and personnel of the US Navy dating back to the earliest days of photography.
Included below is a general guide to the Military Records held by the Still Photography Section, which includes references to how to research Navy topics.
The following article provides information on how to conduct searches for photographs on the National Archives Catalog.
The Still Picture Branch has also published digital aids for specific groups of records, which can be viewed by following the links provided below
- U.S. Navy Ships
- Index to U.S. Navy Ships
- KYR Lecture on World War II Military Unit Photographs (2017 Nov 16)
Motion Picture, Sound and Video Recordings
The Motion Picture, Sound and Video Recordings Branch has many films, videos, and records created by the US Navy, including film footage taken by combat photographers during World War II and audio recordings.
There are many digitized films and sound recordings that are accessible through the National Archives Catalog. There are links to the digital resources off the main Motion Picture, Sound and Video Recordings Branch page, which you can view by following the links below. Note: You can refine these searches by record group in the “Refine By” section in the left-hand column.
There is a specific page devoted to World War II motion pictures, which includes a number of Navy films:
Article on several World War I films:
Cartographic and Architectural Records
The Cartographic and Architectural Branch holds many architectural plans of older Navy ships and bases, as well as maps and charts produced by the U.S. Navy.
There are many digitized drawings, maps, and charts that are accessible through the National Archives Catalog. Note: You can refine these searches by record group in the “Refine By” section in the left-hand column.
For general information on the Cartographic Holdings of the National Archives:
For a guide to the ship plans holdings of the Cartographic Branch
And Cartographic materials relating to the Civil War and World War II -
The US Government has been creating electronic records as early as World War II, and more and more of these records are coming to the National Archives as we accession records from the digital age.
Information on the various series of electronic records that relate to the US Navy can be found either on the National Archives Catalog or the Access to Archival Databases (AAD).
The Access to Archival Databases (AAD) is a collection of searchable databases of electronic records created by different agencies of the US government.
Below is a selection that relate to the US Navy:
- Mine Warfare Operations Files (MINEA)
- Records About Naval Gunfire Support During the Vietnam War
- Records of Duty Locations for Naval Intelligence Personnel, 1942-45
- Awards Information Management System (AIMS)
- Combat Air Activities File (CACTA)
- Southeast Asia Data Base (SEADAB) (translated)
- Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam War
Some of these databases are stand alone sets of data, whereas some might have different sections that relate to different periods of time.