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Sources of U.S. Military Images: Major Repositories


Jump to: General Sources (multiple military branches) | Army | Coast Guard | Navy | Air Force and Military Aviation

The Library's collections contain many U.S. military images. However, they generally are not well indexed by military units, type of vehicle, or name of ship. An extensive search might uncover images of interest, but such a search would need to conducted in-person by the researcher or his/her representative. The institutions listed below have specialized collections of military images which are generally well indexed.

General Sources

The following repositories include holdings from multiple branches of the military:

  • The designated repository for all official U.S. military photographs taken before 1982 is the:

    Still Picture Reference
    Special Media Archives Services Division
    National Archives & Records Administration
    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    Web site:
    Telephone: (301) 837-0561
    Fax: (301) 837-3621
    [email protected]

    1,522 images from the collections of the Still Pictures Branch have been reproduced in War & Conflict: Selected Images from the National Archives 1765-1970, edited by Jonathan Heller (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1990). LC Call number: E181.W27 1990
  • Photographs that are considered "active" pending transfer to the National Archives:

    Defense Imagery Management Operations Center (DIMOC)
    (888) 743-4662
    Web site:

    Email: [email protected]

    Still, motion and multimedia imagery including imagery of operations and activities from throughout the Department of Defense.
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
    Stanford University
    Stanford, CA 94305
    Web site:
    telephone (650) 723-3563
    [email protected]
    This institution has a large collection of posters, prints, drawings, and photographs, from various countries, with a special focus on the 19th century.
  • Department of Defense, Public Communications - DOD Public Affairs
    1400 Defense Pentagon
    Washington, D.C. 20301-1400
    Web site:
    telephone (703) 571-3343
    This public affairs office is particularly helpful in providing photographs and information, including of recent events, primarily to the media.
  • Armed Forces History Collection National Museum of American History
    Division of Military History and Diplomacy
    Smithsonian Institution
    P.O. Box 37012
    Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
    telephone (202) 633-3950

    This office is a good source of information on early American military uniforms and has a photograph collection.

  • National Museum of Health and Medicine
    2500 Linden Lane
    Silver Spring, MD20910

    Web site:
    telephone (301) 319-3300
    Established during the Civil War as the Army Medical Museum, this Museum's collections focus particularly on specimens for research in military medicine and surgery, including the history and practice of American medicine. The museum's collections are made available for the education of medical professionals, Department of Defense personnel, historians, and the public through exhibits in the museum, loans to other institutions, and individualized study.

Particular Branches of the Military


  • U.S. Army Center of Military History
    Attn: AAMC-MDC
    102 4th Ave.
    Building 35, Ft. McNair
    Washington, D.C. 20319-5060
    Web site:
    This office has custody of the Army War Art collection of paintings, with photographs available of the paintings [Art Curator telephone (703) 805-7359]. It also has historical information on all U.S. Army Museums [telephone (703) 805-9792.)
  • U.S. Army Military History Institute at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
    ATTN: Special Collections
    950 Soldiers Drive
    Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013-5021
    Web site:
    Reference telephone (717) 245-3949
    Although especially known for its Civil War holdings, this institution has custody of large research collections of photographs on the U.S. Army from 1840 to the present donated by private sources. Includes collections of Omar Bradley and Lewis Blaine Hershey. Coverage is smaller for more recent events such as Desert Storm and Somalia.
  • U.S. Military Academy Library
    Jefferson Hall
    758 Cullum Road
    U.S. Military Academy
    West Point, NY 10996
    Web site:
    Reference Desk (845) 938-3259
    The Archives includes cadet portraits, 20th century photographs of students, staff, and buildings taken by the White Brothers, and some Signal Corps, UPI, and AP photographs. The Special Collections have uncopyrighted photos of cadets and class photos, 1857 to the present, and alumni files. Coverage in Special Collections includes the Boxer Rebellion, WW I, WW II (Gen. Kruger and Gen. Bradley collections), Korean War, and a small amount of material on the Vietnamese Conflict.
  • United States Army Women's Museum
    2100"A" Avenue
    Fort Lee, VA 23801
    Web site:
    telephone (804) 734-4327

  • General George S. Patton Museum
    P.O. Box 208
    4554 Fayette Avenue
    Fort Knox, KY 40121-0208
    Web site:
    telephone (502) 624-3812

  • U.S. Cavalry Museum
    500 Huebner Road
    Fort Riley, KS 66442
    Web site:
    telephone (785) 239-2737

  • U.S. Army Artillery Museum
    238 NW Randolph Rd.
    Fort Sill, OK 73503
    Web site:
    telephone (580) 442-1819

Coast Guard

  • Commandant (CG-09231)
    Attn: Coast Guard Historian's Office
    U.S. Coast Guard, Stop 3031
    2703 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave. SE
    Washington, D.C. 20593-7031
    Web site:
    telephone (202) 267-372-4651 / 372-4653
    Holds materials relating to the Coast Guard, post-Civil War era to early 1990s.


  • U.S. Naval Institute
    Photo Service
    291 Wood Road
    Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
    Web site:

    telephone (410) 295-1022
    This library has a large collection of naval and maritime photographs. Coverage is of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, Marines, and Air Force. Have U.S. and foreign vessels, individuals, and combat photographs. Collections date from Civil War to present.
  • Naval History and Heritage Command
    Photographic Section
    Washington Navy Yard,
    805 Kidder Breese SE
    Washington, D.C. 20374-5060
    Web site:
    telephone (202) 433-2765
    This office has a wealth of information on sources of photographs relating to any aspect of U.S. naval history. Excellent coverage before 1920, good WW II coverage, moderate holdings through Vietnamese Conflict.

Air Force and Military Aviation

  • Air Force Historical Research Agency
    600 Chennault Circle, Bldg 1405
    Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424
    Web site:
    telephone (334) 953-2395

  • National Air and Space Museum
    Archives Division, MRC322
    Smithsonian Institution
    Washington, D.C. 20560
    Mail: P.O. Box 30712
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
    Web site:
    telephone (703) 572-4045

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
    14390 Air & Space Museum parkway
    Chantilly, VA 20151
    telephone: (703) 572-4045
    General resarch on most topics can be completed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center holds the majority of the Archives' collections, including film, video and microfilm. The museum is an excellent source of information about the Air Force photographs held by the National Archives.
Prepared by: Prints and Photographs Division Reference Staff, January 1998. Last revised: May 2018.
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  March 25, 2022
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