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Aerial photographs for the Forest Service are held in a series in Record Group 95, Aerial Photographs, 1932 - 2011. The search for these photographs begins with Special List 25, which provides information on all available domestic photography. This list is available for download digitally here and in the Cartographic Research Room.


Special List 25, RG 95 Aerial Photographs


While you search this list by state, thereunder by county, the indexes for the photographs are filed under the name of the National Forest or the project symbol. This can be found in the “Filed Under” field.


The search item listed in the “Filed Under” field corresponds to indexes in the series Indexes to Aerial Photography, 1932 - 2010.


You can search the National Archives Catalog to see if the indexes are available for a specific National Forest by following these instructions:


Step 1: Navigate to

Step 2: Click on the "Advanced Search" button next to the main search bar.

Step 3: Enter the following search data:


Search Term: Enter "Indexes to Aerial Photography for (forest name) National Forest". Ex: Indexes to Aerial Photography for Beaverhead National Forest


Record Group: Enter "95"


Level of Descriptions: Select "File Unit"


Location of Archival Materials: Select "National Archives at College Park - Cartographic"


Scroll to the bottom of the search page and click "Search".



You will then see the search results for the available indexes:


Step 4: Click on the file unit from the search results


Step 5: Click on the "Search within this file unit" button. This will bring up all of the digitized sheets for the file unit.


You can then click on each sheet to view it.


The indexes include line index maps and photomosaics that show the available coverage for each listed National Forest or project and the corresponding date of the photographs. You can search the index for your specific area of interest.


RG 95, Indexes to Aerial Photography, Beaverhead National Forest, 1960, EIN, Sheet 1



The first number in the line is the roll number for the line of photographs. The circles in the line indicate available photographic coverage. Each circle represents a different photograph. Circles without an exposure number can be counted from the previous provided number to determine which exposure number it represents on the film can. The symbol, roll and exposure creates a citation which can be used to locate the film can where the photographs are held. (ex: EIN-8-217)


Information about the photographs, including the forest name, project and symbol, can be found on the index.



Photomosaic indexes for RG 95 are similar to the line indexes for finding photographs.


RG 95, Indexes to Aerial Photography, Ashley National Forest, 1964, ELS, Sheet 1



Like with the line indexes, the spot you locate on the index will include a project symbol, roll and frame number (ex: ELS-6-140).


Information about the photographs, including the forest name, project and symbol, can be found on the index.



The symbol, roll and exposure numbers from any RG 95 indexes correspond to a film can on the RG 95 Can Locator. Paper and digital versions of the can locator are available onsite in the Cartographic Research Room.


RG 95, Aerial Photographs Can Locator



These film cans may be ordered in the Cartographic Research Room. Cans with an “ON” identifier are original negatives which are stored at the Lenexa Federal Records Center. These cans may be ordered in the Cartographic Research Room and will be shipped to arrive within three business days. They cannot be viewed at the Lenexa facility. 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 stored in the same facility as the Cartographic Research Room. These are noted in the can locator  with a “DN” identifier and can be ordered and viewed onsite.


Once you order the cans that must be shipped from Lenexa and they arrive, 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.


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