Most of the aerial photographs from World War I are held in Aerial Photographs, 1918 - ca. 1920, a series in Record Group 120 in the Cartographic Branch. This series consists of approximately 16,000 photographs.


These photographs are partially described in a finding aid which is available in the Cartographic Research Room and digitally by request by emailing carto@nara.gov.

RG 120, Aerial Photographs finding aid

You can search the finding aid by country, location, date and military unit. Box numbers are listed for the described photographs.

Index maps in the series RG 120: Aerial Photography Indexes, 1918 - ca. 1920 can be used to locate photographs of specific areas in France. The finding aid for aerial photographs also lists which areas have index maps available in this series.

After locating photographs of interest from the indexes or the finding aid, you can request specific boxes or photographs.

RG 120, Aerial Photographs, Box 4, Cunel, France

While this is the main series of aerial photography for RG 120, the following series also include aerial photographs:

Aerial Photographs of Operations with Interpretations, 1917 - 1919

French General Staff Maps, 1917 - ca. 1919

German Aerial Photo Maps, 1917 - ca. 1919

Guides to the Interpretation of World War I Aerial Photographs , 1918 - ca. 1920

Italian Army Maps and Photographs, ca. 1917 - ca. 1918

Map Indexes, Registers, and Studies, 1917 - 1919

Records Related to Allied and Enemy Military Operations, 1917 - 1919

Records Relating to Aerial Bombing Targets, ca. 1918 - ca. 1920

Each catalog description includes information about what is included in each series as well as how they are arranged and if there are finding aids available.

You can also search the Cartographic guide to World War I records, Preliminary Inventory 165, in the Cartographic Research Room or digitally by request by emailing carto@nara.gov.

You can view and copy these photographs 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 carto@nara.gov.