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The National Archives Cartographic Branch holds satellite photography covering most of the world. This photography can be found in a few different series located in two Record Groups: 1. Satellite Imagery for the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD Program, 1959 - 1972, Keyhole-7 (KH-7) Satellite Photography, 7/1/1963 - 6/30/1967 and Keyhole-9 (KH-9) Satellite Imagery, 3/1/1973 - 10/31/1980 from Record Group 263: Records of the Central Intelligence Agency; and 2. Keyhole-9 (KH-9) Aerial Photographs, 6/1971 - 4/1986 from Record Group 537: Records of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.



CORONA and KH-7 Imagery

CORONA and KH-7 Satellite photography can be located by accessing indexes in the Cartographic Research Room. In our research room, we have indexes that lead to charts in RG 263: Photomosaic World Aeronautical Charts, 9/1960 - 6/1972 based on your area of interest.


RG 263: Photomosaic World Aeronautical Charts, 9/1960 - 6/1972, WAC 167


Once you obtain access to these charts, you can see if coverage exists for your specific area. The images attached to the maps show which coverage is available. Once you locate coverage, the charts will provide you with mission information which will lead you to a can of aerial film in RG 263: Satellite Imagery for the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD Program, 1959 - 1972 and RG 263: Keyhole-7 (KH-7) Satellite Photography, 7/1/1963 - 6/30/1967. Our can locators for satellite photography will provide film can numbers for each mission. You can search the can locators using the mission information from the indexes.



CORONA Film Cans


CORONA Imagery Can Locator


RG 263, Satellite Imagery for the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD Program, 1959 - 1972, Mission 1007-1, Pass 56-D, Aft-18 (available online via USGS EarthExplorer, Entity ID DS1007-1056DA018)



KH-7 Film Cans


KH-7 and KH-9 Mission Locator (can locator)


RG 263, KH-7 Satellite Photography, Mission 4001, Pass 7, Frame 5 (available online via USGS EarthExplorer, Entity ID DZB00400100007H005002)



KH-9 Imagery

Images in RG 537: Keyhole-9 (KH-9) Aerial Photographs, 6/1971 - 4/1986 and RG 263: Keyhole-9 (KH-9) Satellite Imagery, 3/1/1973 - 10/31/1980 can be located using spreadsheets and databases that we have onsite in the Cartographic Research Room. Although these finding aids are complicated, please do no hesitate to email us to ask for assistance at


The finding aids can be used by searching for your geographic coordinates.


KH-9 Mission Spreadsheet 1


Once you locate the general area of your coordinates in the spreadsheets, the associated mission information will be listed under the “Mission,” “Bucket” and “OP” fields. You can then search the KH-9 can locator to find the available film cans that hold these images.


KH-7 and KH-9 Mission Locator (can locator)


RG 263, KH-9 Satellite Photography, Mission 1208-5, Pass 176, Frame 5 (available online via USGS EarthExplorer, Entity ID DZB00400100007H005002)



The ON or CON number represents the original film can. If there is a SAT DP can number, you can order that in our research room and view onsite. If there is only an ON or CON number, you would need to order the can to be delivered from our Lenexa Federal Records Center. These cans may be ordered in the Cartographic Research Room and arrive there 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.


Once you order the cans, 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. The full images cannot be scanned on these scanners due to the size of the photographs, but separate images can be stitched together to create the full image.


While satellite imagery can be difficult to scan due to the size of the photographs on the reels, many of them are already scanned and can be accessed using the USGS EarthExplorer. Directions for using the site are as follows:


1. Search Criteria: Set your Search Criteria using the options given. You can add geographic coordinates to view all aerial coverage for your specific area. You can also add dates to search for a specific time frame.




2. Data Sets: To search satellite imagery, select Declassified Data, then select one or more of the available data sets:


        Declass 1 (1996): For CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD (1960-1972)

        Declass 2 (2002): For KH-7 (1963-1967) and KH-9 (1973-1980)

        Declass 3 (2013): For KH-9 (1971-1984)



3. Additional Criteria: Choose or enter information for any of the fields in order to refine your search. Or leave as is to widen your search results.


If available, based on which type of images you are searching for, you can include the pass number (which is part of the mission information found on our indexes) as a five digit number in the “Operations Number” field (ex: Pass 1 - Operations Number 00001; Pass 176 - Operations Number 00176). This can help you narrow down specific images that are part of a larger mission. The pass number may be found in the can locators or on the WAC charts used as indexes.



4. Click Results. You may use the Show Results Controls options to view the aerial coverage for each photo on the map. Each image should also have its own toolbar set of options for display and download. Hover the mouse over the icons in the results toolbars for each image for a brief title of each option.



If you have any questions regarding satellite photography, you can email the Cartographic Branch at or the Aerial Photography Subject Matter Expert at

The National Archives and Records Administration holds a substantial quantity of records relating to Holocaust-Era art provenance and claims research. Within these holdings there are records relating to the looting, identification, recovery, and disposition of cultural property during and after World War II. Many of these records are identified in Holocaust-Era Assets: A Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland (1999) compiled by Dr. Greg Bradsher (A digital copy is also available at the HathiTrust Digital Library and may be viewed here). This finding aid is the most comprehensive guide to date and it is a critical starting point for researchers conducting art provenance and claims research using NARA’s records.


Some of the records listed and described in Dr. Bradsher’s finding aid were microfilmed by NARA in the early 2000s. Digital images of the microfilmed records can be viewed free of charge through the Holocaust-Era Assets Collection at NARA has been uploading the images produced by into the National Archives Catalog. The following microfilm publications are fully available in the Catalog as of November 2020:


The microfilm publications listed below are in the process of being uploaded to the Catalog and are currently partially available to view and download:



We will post updated information on History Hub once these publications are completely available in the Catalog.


Over the past several years, Dr. Bradsher and I have been compiling a list of NARA records of importance to provenance research that are not available digitally on with the objective to digitize them in-house and upload the digital images into the National Archives Catalog, as time and resources permit. So far, we have digitized relevant files from two series. The first series, titled Records of the German Military Commander in France Relating to the Seizure and Transportation of Cultural and Other Property, is part of the National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized (Record Group 242) and contains photostats of correspondence, lists, inventories, instructions, packing and shipping lists, and other records relating to the seizure, administration, and disposition of cultural and other property in France during the 1940-1944 period.


We also digitized five folders that contain documents crucial for provenance research, titled Art Treasures vol 1-5, from the series Reference Documents Received from American and Foreign Sources in the National Archives Collection of World War II War Crimes Records (Record Group 238).


The records described above are only a small portion of relevant provenance and claims research records. There are millions of pages of records that are described in the National Archives Catalog, but are not digitized and need to be viewed on-site in the Research Rooms at the National Archives at College Park, MD.


Further, we have created a website on Holocaust-Era Assets which features several webpages on specific subjects such as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) Photographic Albums and provides useful resources for provenance researchers. We are in the process of updating the website by adding new information and making it as user friendly as possible. NARA staff have written blog posts about records and topics related to Holocaust-Era assets and looted cultural property on both the Text Message Blog that focuses on textual records and the Unwritten Record Blog, dedicated to special media holdings.


NARA is also a part of the International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property maintainted by the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI), which is a collaboration of national and other archival institutions with records that pertain to Nazi-Era cultural property. The Portal links researchers to archival materials across participating institutions consisting of descriptions of records and, in many cases, digital images of the records that relate to cultural property that was stolen, looted, seized, forcibly sold, or otherwise lost during the Nazi era. The records made available on the Portal from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration include over 2.3 million pages of documents created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II as part of its investigations into cultural assets that were looted or otherwise lost during the war.


While Holocaust-Era art and claims research can be challenging, the National Archives has been working to provide researchers with the tools listed above to help navigate through the millions of pages of relevant documents.

There are few events in U. S. history that spark the imagination to “what happened” than the disappearance of Flight 19 on December 5, 1945. In brief, for those unfamiliar with the story, Flight 19 was a training flight of five Grumman TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers that took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, FL on the afternoon of December 5, 1945.  The training flight was to take them east and fly near the Bahama Islands and then return to Fort Lauderdale. The purpose of the training was to teach dead reckoning skills and using speed, heading, and elapsed time to navigate. The first part of the flight in getting to the Bahamas was successful. It was on the return when things took a different turn. One of the compelling aspects of this story compared to others of ships or aircraft lost in the Bermuda Triangle is that the air stations along eastern Florida were either listening to or in communication with the flight commander Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor as the flight was getting lost.  Starting around 3 PM, transmissions from the lost planes began to be received. For the next three hours, naval air stations listened to the growing confusion and frustration of the commanding pilot as he tried to figure out how to either get back or land somewhere safe. Then the radio transmissions ended about 6:30 PM that evening with LT Talyor saying that they might have to ditch at sea unless they found land and that when the first plane goes below 10 gallons of fuel, then all will ditch together.


Sadly, this was only the first part of this tragedy.  The Navy sent out units to search for the lost planes as early as 6 PM that evening.  Among the search and rescue units were two PBM-5 Martin Mariners, large seaplanes, from Naval Air Station Banana River, FL that took off at 7:27 PM.  One the PBM-5’s made a routine call at 7:30 PM and then was never heard from again. There is some evidence that the Mariner may have exploded in mid-air because there were reports from vessels at sea near the Mariner’s patrol area saying they saw a “fireball” approximately around the time another ship lost RADAR contact with the plane.


The U. S. Navy was baffled by the loss of both the Avengers and the Mariner, and so they investigated.


Among the newly added series of digitized records to the National Archives Catalog is National Archives Publication M1657: Folder A17: Fort Lauderdale-5 TBM Crash-December 5, 1945 THRU PBM-1946, a single reel of microfilm that is part of the series Subject Files, 1945-1958 in the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (Record Group 181) that are in the custody of the National Archives at Fort Worth, TX. The microfilmed series is a collection of materials that was eventually used in the Navy’s Board of Investigation including weather observations, the history of the aircraft and engine logs, a rough crash log, radio station logs, preflight forms, communication logs, incident reports, air/sea rescue plans, maps of the search area.


In addition to these records, there are related records in other series that have not been digitized in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference. In the World War II Command Files that are part of the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38), there is a file unit titled Shore Establishments, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Board of Investigation 5 TBM Avengers 7 December 1945 that includes a copy of the findings of the Board of Investigation (Box 419). There is another copy of the Board of Investigation in file units Type of Command, Training, Naval Air Advanced Training Command, Jacksonville, FL Board of Investigation into Missing TBMs and PBM Airplanes December 7, 1945 Part I and Part II (Box 373). 


In the Casualty Assistance Branch Ships, Stations, Units, And Incidents Casualty Information Records in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24), there are casualty reports filed under NAS Fort Lauderdale (Box 109) and under NAS Banana River (Box 108). These files include correspondence from the Casualty Assistance Branch regarding the circumstances of the losses and any legal changes to their status.  Part of the file addresses the aircrews’ status as missing versus being declared dead.


On the other side of the story, not only were trained personnel lost, but so were several planes. The accident reports for the aircraft can be located in the series titled General Correspondence, 1943-45 in the Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics (Record Group 72). The five Avengers are filed under “VTBM1/L11-1 1945” in Box 5181 and the Mariner is filed under “VPBM5/L11-1 1945” in Box 4766. These accident reports include a form report describing the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft, who was aboard at the time, additional information related to the search efforts, and the general decision on who or what was to blame for the loss. In this particular case, a decision was made, based on the evidence on hand, but deferred the final decision to the Board of Investigation to be held later.


In addition to the records at the National Archives in College Park, there may be other relevant records relating to Flight 19 that were created by local naval air stations and the regional naval district. The records of the 7th Naval District (Florida) and the naval air stations that were involved in the incident are in the custody of the National Archives at Atlanta. An example of these records are the Central Subject Files, 1942-1945 of the 7th Naval District. Because these are administrative files, they are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual 4th Edition, 1941.  A short of list of select filing designations are A17-9 (Naval Courts and Boards), A17-24 (Court of Inquiry), A17-25 (Board of Investigations), L11-1 (Material Loss), the different aircraft types, VTBM1 and VPBM5, and the different naval air stations NA29 - Jacksonville NAS, NA59 - Cocoa and Banana River NAS, and NA106 - Fort Lauderdale NAS.


Besides these records that directly relate the topic of Flight 19, there may be other series in  record groups that are overlooked because they are not as well known and somewhat difficult to use. An example of this are the records in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.  Located at the National Archives in College Park and in the regional branches like the National Archives in Atlanta, this record group is divided into naval commands, and there may be several entries per command that cover World War II through the late 1950’s.  These records are difficult to use because most, not all, have not been processed and described, and therefore do not have easy to use finding aids. As an example of this method, using the information from the Board of Investigation, it references the Gulf Sea Frontier and Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet as being contributors of reports in the investigation and recipients of copies of the investigation.  The training flight and the aircraft were organized under Naval Air Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, which is a subordinate command to Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, and the search and rescue effort were conducted by units from the Gulf Sea Frontier. So any records from these commands could potentially have relevant records.


Located at the National Archives in College Park, there are two series of correspondence both the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier and the Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. The majority of the series in RG 313 still are unprocessed and undescribed. In many cases, the agency paperwork that came with the records are used as ad hoc finding aids.  This is in part why these series in RG 313 are often overlooked.


For the Gulf Sea Frontier, there are the Unclassified Correspondence, 1940-1946 and Formerly Security Classified Correspondence, 1940-1946, which are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual, so the suggested filing designations are a good place to start. As it is these series have been processed with container lists, so they are more accessible.


For Training Command, Atlantic Fleet are the Confidential, Restricted and Secret General Administrative Files, 1944-1945 and the Confidential and Unclassified General Administrative Files, 1941-46.  Both series are arranged by the Navy Filing Manual. These two series have not been processed or described, so the record dossiers would be the finding aids.


The loss of the planes in Flight 19 and the search plane PBM5 in 1945 with all the new innovations of RADAR, IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) Transponders, and the myriad of equipment that was available to pilots and crew to help them survive a crash, stay afloat and help searchers find them goes to show how big the ocean still is.  Six, relatively small, planes proved to be impossible to locate in churning waters of the Atlantic and in among the miles of shore lines of Florida, Grand Bahamas, and elsewhere. The loss of the planes and crew of Flight 19 remains a mystery to this day.


Although there may be yearbooks and crew photos intermingled with textual records of the units, ships or crews, they are not considered permanent records unless the photographs were taken by the Army Signal Corps or other official military photographers usually for publicity. These photographs were considered permanent records are part of the photograph collections listed in the blog postings highlighted below.


Sometimes, the officers of a unit or crew will pay for a photographer to come to their base to take pictures, These photographs sometimes are filed in the records of the unit or crew but oftentimes they are just distributed to the individual members with no permanent copy kept.


NARA's Special Media Branch blog, "The Unwritten Record," posted a 4-Part series that explains about researching for military unit or crew photographs during WWII using records at the National Archives in College Park - Still Pictures (RDSP). Please contact RDSP via email at if you have any questions about these records:


NAID 26381445 Marine w. Dog.png

NAID 26381445


These records are digitized and available online through the National Archives catalog and Access to Archival Databases (AAD).  This is not a comprehensive list of every Vietnam War resource available online, but hopefully these links will be a helpful stepping off point for historical research about individuals and events connected to this period. The National Archives also has a new Vietnam War research portal, which you can learn more about here.



NAID 26398247.pngPhotograph Series

(Photo: South Vietnamese Pilot and Family Evacuate during Operation Frequent Wind)


Black and White Photographs of Marine Corps Activities in Vietnam, 1962 – 1975- Photos of a wide range of subjects including: marines in combat, military dogs, ceremonies and entertainers, aircraft, visits by VIPs, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, Viet Cong, Vietnamese civilians, Operation Homecoming, and Operation Frequent Wind.


General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 – 1981- This series covers multiple wars, including Vietnam.


General Black-and-White Photographic File of the Department of Navy, 1958 – 1981- Includes photos of POW releases, naval combat and ships, and medical staff with wounded soldiers.



Motion Pictures

Vietnam, Vietnam- This film reviews the history of Vietnam and U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The war footage includes combat scenes, civilian massacres and mistreatment of Prisoners of War. The film concludes with a quick succession of comments by well-known and average citizens, some favoring U.S. involvement and some opposing it. The movie was executive produced and directed by John Ford, with a narration by actor Charlton Heston.


Motion Picture Films From "The Big Picture" Television Program Series, ca. 1950 - ca. 1975

Films from this series include Action Vietnam, The Army and Vietnam, The Big Red One in Vietnam, The Fight for Vietnam, The Hidden War in Vietnam, U.S. Army Advisor in Vietnam , Vietnam Crucible, and Why Vietnam?.  The first two minutes of each film is currently available in the National Archives catalog, but many of these films have been uploaded to YouTube by third parties.



Records Relating to Combat

Links to unit- and ship-level operational records can be found here.


Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, 6/1967 - 1/1969- Also known as the Pentagon Papers.  This series covers US involvement in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from WWII to 1967.  An index to the materials is available in the catalog here.


Vietnam Special Studies Group (VSSG) Files, July 1, 1969 - January 31, 1974 (Downloadable data file)- Summarized data about the security of hamlets in South Vietnam as derived from the Hamlet Evaluation System 1971 (HES71) files. The categories describing the security of the hamlet indicate the degree to which the GNV or Viet Cong has presence or influence in the hamlet.


General Records, 1965 – 1972- "This series consists of a wide variety of records that were maintained by the Command Historian. The records include Command Historian administrative files, as well as other unit histories, counterinsurgency studies, weapons effectiveness reports, personnel reports, interviews, handbooks, photographs, and operational reports - lessons learned (ORLL)."



NAID 532511 POW Wives.png

Records Relating to Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA)

(Photo: Marine Wives at Camp Pendleton, California Waiting for the Return of Prisoners of War, 2/12/1973)

(Digitized records relating to POWs and MIA, especially photos, are located in several series across multiple record groups and creators. Many are located in presidential records, military records, state department records, and senate records.  They can be located using a keyword search of the National Archives catalog.)


Cluster Analysis Map of Vietnam, 1991 – 1992- Cluster map of intelligence reports of US POWs in Vietnam from the records of the U.S. Senate.


CBS REPORTS: POWS PAWNS OF WAR, 6/1971, Part 1 and Part 2- CBS documentary on treatment of US prisoners in North Vietnam and Viet Cong prisoners in South Vietnam, and includes interviews with wives and families of American POWS.


Divider/Subject - 280 - Operation Homecoming (Repatriation of U.S. Marine POWs)  and Divider/Subject - 293 - Prisoners (SEE ALSO "Operation Homecoming") - Photos from the series Black and White Photographs of Marine Corps Activities in Vietnam, 1962 – 1975



Records Relating to Veterans

Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study Files, 1986 – 1987- Study commissioned by the VA on the causes, evolution, and extent of readjustment problems experienced by veterans of the Vietnam War.



Records Relating to Anti-War Demonstrations

NAID 2803434.png(Photo: Veterans for Peace at the March on the Pentagon, 10/21/1967)


Survey on Campus Unrest Data File (Downloadable data file)-Study done by Nixon President's Commission on Campus Unrest with information collected from 1967-1970. This series consists of a social survey of college and university administrators, faculty members and student leaders. It includes information about the institutions and the students, and about incidents on respondents' campuses that involved the National Guard, off-campus police, outsiders, court injunctions, property destruction, injuries or death. The survey also includes information about respondents' attitudes toward causes of unrest, the institutional and governmental responses, and respondents' proposals to limit future incidents.


Johnson White House Photographs, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969- This series includes several photos of anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C. during the Johnson Administration.


Records of the Kent State University Investigative Team, 1970 – 1970- Materials collected to investigate the death of Kent State student demonstrators, as part of President Nixon’s Commission on Campus Unrest.


Coffin, Spock, et al. Protest- Digitized items from an investigation of anti-war activities conducted by the U.S. Attorney for the Judicial District of Massachusetts.



Records Relating to Special Events

After Action Reports and Other Records Relating to the Bob Hope Christmas Tours, 1968 – 1972- "This series consists of after action reports relating to the several Bob Hope Christmas shows staged within Vietnam ("Operation Holly", 1966-1970; "Operation Jingle Bells", 1971)."

The National Archives has a wealth of records and information documenting the U.S. experience in the Vietnam conflict, including photographs, textual and electronic records, audiovisual recordings, exhibits, educational resources, articles, blog posts, lectures, and events.

banner photo.jpg


To coincide with the opening of the our newest exhibit, Remembering Vietnam, we've launched a Vietnam War research portal. This portal creates a central space for all National Archives resources and content related to the Vietnam War for use by researchers, students and educators, museum goers, veterans, and those curious about the conflict.


Browse our interactive timeline to journey through events with select records from the National Archives Catalog.



You can also explore the Vietnam conflict by topic areas: Diplomacy, In Country, The War at Home, and Post-Conflict Events. Each topic page includes links to digitized records and photographs in the Catalog, descriptions of records available for research, educator resources, articles and blog posts and more.


Are you looking to volunteer as a citizen archivist? One of our current missions asks for your help to transcribe the captions and tag features in these black and white photographs of Marine Corps activities in Vietnam. Start tagging and transcribing on our Citizen Archivist Dashboard.


Check it out! We'd love to hear your thoughts on the Vietnam War research portal. Have you learned something new or found a unique photo or an interesting record? Please share with us! Email us at

Women have been serving in the military since the Revolutionary War in one capacity or another. In 1775, women followed their husbands to serve as laundresses, cooks and nurses, as long as the commanding officers decided they were proving themselves to be helpful to the soldiers.



From 1782 to 1783, Deborah Sampson served in General Washington’s Army disguised as a man. When she was wounded, they discovered she was a woman and they allowed her to be honorably discharged from the Army.



During the American Civil War, women served as administrators of hospitals, and cooks for the Union and Confederate Armies. Women were also spies, and others disguised themselves as men so that they could fight beside their male counterparts.



In WWI, women were allowed to join the military. 33,000 women served as nurses and support staff. More than 400 nurses died in the line of duty. The first woman to enlist in the military was Loretta Walsh in 1917.



In WWII, more than 400,000 women served at home and overseas as mechanics, ambulance drivers, pilots, administrators, nurses and other non-combat roles. 88 women were captured and held as prisoners of war (POWs)



Not until 1948, when a law was passed by Congress called the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, were women granted permanent status in the military and subject to military authority and regulations, which entitled them to veteran’s benefits.



During the Korean War, over 50,000 women served at home and abroad. 500 Army nurses served in combat zones and many Navy nurses served on hospital ships.



In Vietnam, approximately 7,000 or more women served as nurses in all five divisions of the military, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines and Coast Guard. All were volunteers.



1973 is the year the draft ended and the all-volunteer military was created, which opened the door for numerous military opportunities for women.



In 1976, West Point welcomed their first female cadets and the Air Force also allowed women to be trained in military science.



1978 was the year women in the Navy and Marines were allowed to serve on non-combat ships as technicians, nurses and officers.



In 1991, an act of Congress allowed women to fly in combat missions.



During the Persian Gulf War in 1991 to 1992, more than 41,000 women were deployed to a combat zone. Two were actually taken captive.



1993 is the year that women were allowed to serve on combat ships by another Act of Congress.



In the year 2000, Captain Kathleen McGrath becomes the first woman to command a U.S. Navy warship.



In 2003, during the Iraq War, three Army women were taken as prisoners of war (POWs) in the first few days of the invasion.



In 2004, Colonel Linda McTague became the first woman commander of a fighter squadron in the history of the Air Force.



In 2005, during the “War on Terror,” Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.

The National Archives holds many records from the Civil War era and also offers many resources to help researchers make the most of those records. You can start your Civil War research with the National Archives here:


Not all Civil War records are held at the federal level, though, and there are many institutions that hold complementary collections. The National Archives’ National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC - has awarded digitization grants to several institutions across the United States that hold records related to the Civil War, and many of those digital collections are freely available online.


Here are some of the digital collections related to the Civil War that were made possible by NHPRC grant funding:


  • The Archives of Michigan, along with the University of Michigan Digital Library, has digitized their Civil War Regimental Service Records. From their website: “The records in this collection document the history of Michigan soldiers in the form of muster rolls, letters, lists of dead, monthly returns and other materials sent to the state Adjutant General during the war.” Find out more by exploring their site:


  • The University of Alabama, has digitized the papers of Septimus D. Cabaniss (1820-1937), who was a southern attorney during the Civil War era. According to the University, “Cabaniss is renowned for his role as litigator and executor for the estate of a wealthy plantation owner who sought to manumit and leave property to a selection of his slaves, many of whom were his children, after his death in the antebellum south.” Check out the collection here:


  • The Missouri State Archives has digitized case files of the Supreme Court of Missouri (1821-1865). In this collection, you can find “transcripts from lower courts, briefs filed by attorneys or interested parties, depositions, summonses, and opinions of the Court addressing matters as diverse as land disputes, the Civil War, women's suffrage, civil rights, and anti-trust laws.” You can access the case files here:


  • The University of North Texas has digitized several 19th century collections, most relate to the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The collection includes a variety of records, for example “the papers of a Confederate physician, a North Texas sheriff and tax collector, a Unionist craftsman who fled to Illinois, a woman who experienced the war in Kansas, and Confederate and Union soldiers who served throughout the United States.” Cooke County ledger books from 1857-1919, which document “violence and crime during the Reconstruction era” are also available. To see the collection, visit this site:




For further information, please see the previous post:

Digitization Projects Made Possible by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

    Another in an occasional series, focusing on the lives and work of former staff of

    the National Archives and Records Administration.



    Records relating to one's military service have been coming into the custody of

    the National Archives and Records Administration since the agency was established.


    Retrieved from a garage in Washington, DC, and carefully flattened with the help of

    workers from the Works Progress Administration, veterans' pension records were an

    early focus of the National Archives' preservation and reference activities.


                               64-NAD-143 Pension Files in Garage, 1936.jpg

                                   64-NAD-143, from NAID 518148

                                          Veterans' Bureau records, in garage at

                                   1214 New Hampshire Ave., NW, May 16, 1936



                64-PR-26-2 - Worker Unfolding Pension Records, ca. 1939.jpg

                   64-PR-26-2, in NAID 18524352

                  WPA worker preparing pension records for flattening, ca. 1939


   The sheer size and scope of these records compelled the Archives to establish an

   operating unit devoted solely to the administration and preservation of these records.


   And that's where Tom Owen comes in.

   Mr. Owen?


                        NA Building - Owen, Thomas M., Jr..jpg

                             NAID 12091385


   Well, you might say I was meant to come work for the National Archives.

   This kind of work is our family business.


          Alabama Dept. of Archives and History, from Encyclopedia of Alabama.jpg

    Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) | Encyclopedia of Alabama



    You see, my father established the Department of Archives and History

    for the state of Alabama. It was the first state archives in the country to be

    supported with public funds, back in 1901.


                               Thomas McAdory Owen, Sr..jpg

                                          Thomas McAdory Owen, Sr.


                               Thomas M. Owen | Encyclopedia of Alabama



     I helped out in the archives, and eventually became the assistant director.

     My mother took over as director when my father died.


     But I had also felt the call to military service.

     I enlisted in the Alabama National Guard; our state organization eventually

     served as part of Douglas MacArthur's 42nd Division in France. 


     Here I am with my parents and my wife, Mabel, around 1918.


                         Thomas Owen with Parents and First Wife, ca. 1918.jpg

                   Caption for Owen Family Photo, ca. 1918.jpg

              Thomas McAdory Owen, Jr (1894 - 1948) - Find A Grave Photos


     I stayed active in the Guard for the rest of my life.

     In 1933 I became the historian for the national organization.


          Owen Listed as Historian for American Legion Convention, 1933 - from U.S. Congressional Serial Set, No. 14956, 2005.jpg

                   U.S. Congressional Serial Set, no. 14596, p. XIII, 2005



                  American Legion Letterhead with Notary Seal, 1938 - RG 64, A1 2A, file Frank T. VanHook, folder no. 3, box 3.jpg

                     file "VanHook, Frank T., folder 3" in NAID 3720066


     After the war, I came back and helped run the State Archives for a while.

     Then I directed the federal records surveys for Alabama for the

    Civil Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.


    Records of the Work Projects Administration [WPA] | National Archives


     And in the spring of '35, I was hired by the National Archives.

    Its first order of business was to survey all of the federal records

    squirreled away in Washington, DC.


                  Announcement of DC Records Survey, 1935, page 1 - RG 64, A1 34, file Memoranda and Press Releases of the Archivist 1935-1936.jpg

                 Announcement of DC Records Survey, 1935, page 2 - RG 64, A1 34, file Memoranda and Press Releases of the Archivist 1935-1936.jpg

             file "Memoranda and Press Releases of the Archivist, 1935-1936"

                                            in NAID 4478137


    It was my job to ride herd on the corps of examiners who were poring over

    all of the collections of government records scattered about the capital.

    Here are the instructions I issued them:


                Instructions to Examiners for DC Records Surveys, June 28, 1935 - RG 64, A1 34, file Div. of Accessions Memoranda 1935-1936 Arthur Leavitt, box 1.jpg

                     file "Division of Accessions Memoranda 1935-1936"

                                            in NAID 4478137



     We sent out our staff photographers to document what they found.

     You simply could not imagine the conditions in which these

     records had been discovered.


                 64-NAD-84 - cropped and rotated.jpg

                      64-NAD-84, in NAID 518148

                           U.S. Shipping Board Organization records,

             in Haley Garage, 21st and Virginia Ave., September 10, 1935



    During this time, I also wrote an article about the National Archives

    for the Legion's magazine.


       Owen Article - A Legion Dream Comes True, Am. Legion Magazine, March 1937 - page 1.jpg  Owen Article - A Legion Dream Comes True, Am. Legion Magazine, March 1937 - page 2.jpg

               The American Legion Monthly [Volume 22, No. 3 (March 1937)]


    In case you're interested, here's a listing of my career up to 1937,

    when this entry appeared in our publication Register of the National Archives:


              Owen Listing in the Register of the National Archives, 1937.jpg


     By the end of 1937, the records survey work was winding down, and new

     operating units were being set up to handle the flow of records coming

     to the Archives. With the new year, I was assigned to head up one of them.


                     RG 64, A1 9 - Memo A-71 Intra-Organization Changes, Jan. 3, 1938.jpg


     Later that year, my division got a new, more informative name.


                     RG 64, A1 9 - Memo A-77 Intra-Organizational Changes, June 1, 1938 - page 1 - header cropped.jpg

                     RG 64, A1 9 - Memo A-77 Intra-Organizational Changes, June 1, 1938 - page 1 - Owen cropped.jpg

                       both from NAID 3890958


     Reference service on the pension files was a large part of the work

    of our division. During the war, we needed more shelf space for

    the multitude of records that agencies were retiring, so we hit upon

    a new way to file the pensions.


    Initially we just had to lay them flat on the shelves.


                            RG 64, P 112, file Records - Preservation - Flat Filing - Flat Files in Stack S-1804, Aug. 1942.jpg

                                       Flat files in Stack S-1804, August 1942


     We tried shelving them another way. And it was a big success.


                      RG 64, P 112, file Records - Preservation - Flat Filing - Memo to Staff re Change to Vertical Filing.jpg


                        RG 64, P 112, file Records - Preservation - Flat Filing - Vertical Files in Stack S-2003, Aug. 1942.jpg

                                      Vertical files in Stack S-2003, August 1942


                    all from file "Records - Preservation - Flat Filing", in NAID 12209376



    Of course, when those new cardboard containers from Remington Rand

    finally arrived, we moved the files into them.


        64-NA-370 Using New Cardboard Boxes for Project, 1942.jpg

          64-NA-370 (NAID 12168986)

                       Archivist Bess Glenn, right, with staff during packing project

                  in the Division of Navy Department Archives, National Archives, 1942


                                     Original Dark Green Archival Box, 1940s.jpg



    Well, it was quite a career, I surely can say. I think that the most meaningful

    thing for me has been working on behalf of all of my fellow veterans and their families.


                          RG 64, P 67, file 1948 - Star Obit for Thomas Owen, Dec..jpg

                                 file "1948" in NAID 7582964


               Thomas Owen Gravestone, Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.jpg

                                 Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama


So you’ve been doing some research on your ancestor who may or may not have served in the Civil War. You’ve consulted the Consolidated Enrollment Lists which have been digitized and made available on (accessible for free in National Archives research rooms and probably at a public library near you), and found that your ancestor was in fact drafted. You’ve requested a search of the military service records and pension records held at the National Archives in Washington and no record was found. What now? Is there a way to find out why he didn’t serve?

The answer may lie in extensive Civil War draft records held at the National Archives’ regional archives facilities around the country. Located in Record Group 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau, along with the Consolidated Enrollment Lists, are additional records related to medical waivers, deserters, and the payment of substitutes to serve in the place of draftees. The records are arranged by congressional district, and held at the regional archives facility that covers that portion of the country.


In my capacity as an Archives Technician at the National Archives at Boston, I recently dealt with a reference request along these lines. A gentleman was attempting to find out whether his great-grandfather had paid a substitute to serve in his place during the war. I was able to locate a volume entitled “Descriptive Book of Drafted Men and Substitutes, 7/1863-11/1865” for the 4th District of Connecticut, which included an entry for the person in question. (Keep in mind that these records are not digitized. I’ve attached a scan of the page below as an example)


CT Draft.jpg


In this case the “Remarks” section, which often indicates whether or not the draftee was exempted from service, was left blank. However, the volume also included a list of substitutes and the principals whom they were replacing, and he was not listed here. While I couldn’t say that this was definitive proof, I was able to tell the great-grandson that it was likely that his great-grandfather did not pay for a substitute to fight in his place.


It is important to keep in mind when utilizing Record Group 110 that the records of many individual congressional districts are incomplete. They are also spread across many volumes that cover often overlapping time periods, making them difficult to research. It is important to begin your search knowing the draftee’s home town, and ideally the date he was drafted, in order to locate any additional information that might be included in the records. That being said, if these obstacles can be overcome, the Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau can provide interesting insights into your ancestor’s Civil War draft experience.


For more information on the National Archives’ regional facilities, please see:


Another great resource is the National Archives’ catalog—a search for the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau in the catalog brings up the following results, which can then be narrowed down by location using the “Refine by Location’ option on the left of the screen:*:*&f.oldScope=(descriptions%20or%20online)&f.recordGroupNoCollectionId=110&SearchType=advanced&f.level=series


For further information please see:


Meier, Michael T., “Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments.” Prologue Magazine, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter 1994.