Now Playing: Historical Films of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

2020 marks the long-awaited completion of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Historical Films digitization project. Boasting over 400 reels of film, Record Group 111 (Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer), Series H (Historical Films) has been digitized in its entirety and will be available in the National Archives catalog and National Archives YouTube channel.

This series features footage captured by the U.S. Army Signal Corps as early as 1914, highlighting activities of the Army during World War I. Much of the footage is typical of wartime photography, depicting distant, smoke-filled battlefields and displays of artillery in action. Off the battlefield, however, the cameramen of the Signal Corps focused on individual subjects, capturing intimate moments of smiling officers and shy civilians alike. In the scene below, members of the 53rd Coast Artillery Regiment sit atop a 340 mm railway gun nicknamed “Reveille Kate.”

Members of the 53rd Coast Artillery Regiment. (From 111-H-1409)

In a similar scene, members of the 91st Aero Squadron pose for the camera.

Members of the 91st Aero Squadron. (From 111-H-1513)

Many of the films in this series cover non-combat aspects of wartime efforts, such as this Quartermaster bakery producing mass amounts of bread for the U.S. Army.

“Scenes of Quartermaster Bakeries in the A.E.F.” (From 111-H-1515)

In this film, the postal service tests incoming letters for hidden messages written in invisible ink.

A postal worker reveals invisible ink. (From 111-H-1401)

Occasionally, a dog might steal the scene. In this clip, Mutt the Y.M.C.A dog delivers cigarettes to the trenches.

Mutt, the YMCA delivery dog. (From 111-H-1367)

Want to learn more? Check out our previous posts about this series:

Captured on Film: Armistice Day 1918

An “Illuminating Post”: Silent Stars Support the Third and Fourth Liberty Loan Campaigns

Shooting World War I: The History of the Army Signal Corps Cameramen, 1917-1918

6 thoughts on “Now Playing: Historical Films of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

  1. Hello could you explain why the movie 111-H-1499 is a old digitalization and not a new one ?

    1. The last batch of new film transfers is being added to the catalog to replace older video files. Please check the catalog again soon for an updated file.

  2. looking for info on old 50’s ? military movie reel ..titled …del ray “hawaii” comm. printer roll #4 (camera roll A – 1) …i dont have acess to a projector and dont want to throw away possible history reel

    1. You may wish to contact the National Archives Moving Image and Sound Branch at mopix@nara.gov to see if you can find more information about your film.

      In the meantime, the Center for Home Movies website (https://www.centerforhomemovies.org/yours/) has great resources regarding caring for motion picture film at home.

      Thank you for visiting The Unwritten Record!

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