1 Reply Latest reply on Feb 5, 2021 10:40 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking records & photos of Alan Shepard

    Dennis Damon Newbie

      I am looking for information and photographs of Alan Shepard when he was a Navy pilot.

        • Re: Seeking records & photos of Alan Shepard
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. Damon,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 - 1998 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that includes the Official Military Personnel File for Alan B. Shepard. The OMPF includes some portrait photographs of him in naval uniform, though none where he is in a flight suit or piloting an aircraft. This OMPF has been digitized and may be viewed online using the Catalog. If you click on the red PDF icon under the “Documents” heading, you will be able to view the entire month’s logs as a single file. Once you have done so, you may use the blue download button to download the PDF.  Due to the size of the files involved, it may take a little while for them to load in full. Please be patient.  If you have any problems accessing this file, please email Catalog@nara.gov.


          Alan Shepard continued to serve as a member of the US Navy even after joining the NASA  astronaut program in 1959. After 1959, he was assigned to NASA until he retired in 1974, at the rank of rear admiral. He retained his flight status with the Navy during much of this time, so technically while he was serving as an astronaut, he was also a Navy pilot.  Nevertheless, we presume you are referring to his time prior to becoming an astronaut.  Some of his assignments during this time are listed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center’s biographic data entry for him as well as on Wikipedia and Encyclopedia.com. The OMPF linked above may include documentation of additional assignments.

          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that may include the deck logs of the various ships he served on. Deck logs only occasionally mention specific officers, but can provide insights into the activities of the ship as a whole. To inquire about logs of specific ships and time periods, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

          We also located World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, ca. 1/1/1942 - ca. 6/1/1946 in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) that includes war diaries of the destroyer USS Cogswell, on which he served during World War II. These records have been digitized and are available online.  Additionally, we located War Diaries, 1946 - 1953 in Record Group 38 that may have diaries for the ships and squadrons he was assigned to during this time period. These latter war diaries series have not been digitized and are not available online.  Plus, we located Flight Demonstration and Test Reports, 1921 - ca. 1959 in the Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics (Record Group 72) and Unclassified Project Files Relating to the Flight Test Division, 1956 - 1967 in the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (Record Group 181) which may include reports relating to test pilot work he did.  Please note that the test reports and project files are not arranged or indexed by pilot name, so finding reports relating to his work without additional information may not be practical. For more information about these records, please email RDT2.

          Next, we searched the Catalog for photographs but the only ones we located relate to his astronaut duties.  There may be additional photographs that are not available yet in the Catalog.  You also may wish to search for photographs related to specific ships, squadrons or other units to which he was assigned.  For more information, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures (RDSS) at stillpix@nara.gov.


          Finally, we conducted a broad search for records related to Alan Shepard and located 15 series, 77 file units, and 217 items.  For questions about specific records, please contact the reference unit listed in the Catalog description.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2, RDSS, and various other NARA units. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

          We searched online and located a small number of pre-1959 photographs of him on Wikimedia Commons.

          Lastly, we suggest that you contact the Naval History and Heritage Command and the NASA History Division.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!