1 Reply Latest reply on Jun 13, 2017 12:30 PM by Research Services at the National Archives

    I'm looking for government documents related to photography during WWII


      I'm working on a history project about WWII photography. One of the questions I'm trying to answer is what the government's intention were for photographs they used as propaganda. I want government documents that will help explain that and their censorship protocol. I'm thinking I should probably be looking in the Office of Censorship and the Office of War Information for that information but I'm unsure about where to go from there. Also I'm not sure what location to put this question in so if another would be better can someone tell which one?

        • Re: I'm looking for government documents related to photography during WWII

          Ms. Bond,


          The Records of the Office of Censorship (Record Group 216) and The Records of the Office of War Information (Record Group 208) may be precisely what you’re looking for. Assuming you haven’t done it already, our first suggestion is to examine the Office of Censorship's page in the Guide to Federal Records to narrow your search even further. In the above link are references to reports, manuals, training sound recordings, and photographs. If you cannot visit the National Archives facility in College Park, MD, you should submit reference requests to the appropriate unit based on the media such as the Textual Reference Archives II Branch (archives2reference@nara.gov), the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch (mopix@nara.gov), and the Still Pictures Branch (stillpix@nara.gov). There is also a book titled Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II. It may have some useful footnotes.


          The Office of War Information was another civilian agency that touched upon censorship. In its propaganda efforts the OWI used a variety of media including film, radio, and theater. It also differentiated its propagandistic and censorship operations conducted at home, those abroad, and whether those abroad were friendly, enemies, or occupied enemies. We expect its relevance to your research interest will depend on the intended audience.


          We checked an OWI finding aid and there are varieties of records series covering censorship or communication with the Office of Censorship. Below is a partial list. The records might not outline specific censorship policies for photographs, but they may illuminate the goals and protocols of censorship more generally. Beneath each entry is a link to the record.


          Records of the Overseas Operations Branch Office of Policy Coordination Area Policy Subject File 1943-1946


          RG 208, NC-148 358, National Archives Identifier (NAID) 646901, Boxes 106-112. This series is arranged by country name and includes policies, cables, and State Department matters relating to each.


          RG 208, NC-148 359, NAID 646907, Boxes 113-117. This series is arranged by topic, e.g., Sea War, War Crimes, Leaflets.


          RG 208, NC-148 360, NAID 648266, Correspondence with Government Agencies. Box 118 specifically contains some records of communication with the Office of Censorship.


          RG 208, NC-148 365, NAID 652976, Boxes 144-145 contain office of Censorship Reports.


          Records of the Director, 1942-1945


          RG 208, NC-148 1, NAID 626013,  Boxes 1 & 5


          Subject File of the Office of Facts and Figures, The Committee on War Information, and Censorship Policy Board, 1941-1942


          RG 208, NC-148 7, NAID 631366, Boxes 4, 10 & 18


          Records of the Domestic Operations Branch


          Records of the Office of the Director. Correspondence of Director Gardener Cowles, Jr., 1942-43. RG 208, NC-148 20, NAID 638083, Box 12A


          Records of the Office of the Director. Correspondence of Director Neil Dalton.

          RG 208, NC-148 23, NAID 649308, Box 27



          These are just a few of the potentially useful series. We hope this will assist you in research.


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