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.”
In a similar scene, members of the 91st Aero Squadron pose for the camera.
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.
In this film, the postal service tests incoming letters for hidden messages written in invisible ink.
Occasionally, a dog might steal the scene. In this clip, Mutt the Y.M.C.A dog delivers cigarettes to the trenches.
Want to learn more? Check out our previous posts about this series: