How to Search Still Photographs for Army Personalities

Searching for photographs of specific service members can be difficult. Within the holdings of the Still Picture Branch we have personality indexes can help assist in the search for specific individuals in the military. Recently, a digitized portion of the Army’s personality index titled 111-PX: Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files (111-SC, 111-P, 111-PC, 111-C), 1940 – 1981 became available through the National Archives’ online Catalog. For an overview and additional instructions on how to search our online Catalog, see our blog post “Searching the National Archives Catalog for Still Photographs.”

The series 111-PX: Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files has two sections which cover different time periods. The first section covers World War II and the Korean War and is fully available online, while the second section that covers the Vietnam War is available onsite in our Research Room. The Vietnam War portion was delayed due to possible Personally Identifiable Information (PII), but will be available through the online catalog soon. The index can be useful for locating Army service members as well as notable personalities. 

One important detail to keep in mind while searching 111-PX is that not every service member is included within the index. Typically, higher ranking individuals are the most frequently found in the index and oftentimes, individuals are not identified in the photographs. If you are unable to find the name of a specific individual, that indicates that we likely do not have a photograph of them or  if we do, they were not identified in the caption. In addition, Military formal photographs–both individuals and groups–were taken by commercial photographers and offered for sale at the time taken. Unfortunately those photos never became part of official military records nor were they retained by the commercial photographers responsible for shooting the photos. 

 

Searching 111-PX

To locate the series 111-PX through the Catalog search, simply enter “111-PX” into the search bar on the homepage of the Catalog. You can also search by the National Archives Identifier Number (NAID) “530686.”

Search1

Then, click the result titled “Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files (111-SC, 111-P, 111-PC, 111-C), 1940 – 1981,” NAID 530686.

Search2

Once you have clicked the title of the series, you will be taken to the overall catalog entry or page for the series 111-PX. You can click on the blue button “Search within this series” to view all of the related catalog entries.

Search3

Within the catalog, the records are grouped alphabetically in a range by the last names of individuals within what are called “File Units.” File Units are groupings of multiple related records within one catalog entry or page. In this series, the File Units are grouped according to the box the physical records are located within. After clicking the “Search within this series” button, you will see a list of all of the available file units. To search, you will need to locate the group of records that includes the last name of the person you are searching for.

Search4

For example, to search for someone with the last name “Davis,” we would find the “File Unit,” titled “Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files, 1940 – 1954: Danner – Davis.”

Search5

After selecting a File Unit, you can view all of the cards in the alphabetical range. Below the thumbnail of the image is a list of all of the cards.  Once you have located a card with the name of the person we are searching for, we can then find the six-digit Signal Corps number. For example, the photograph of Pvt. Adam H. Davis is identified by the Signal Corps number 111-SC-198304.

Search6

While not all of the related photographs have been digitized or are available on our online catalog, we were able to locate the photograph of Pvt. Davis within the series 111-SC: Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 – ca. 1981 by using the Signal Corps number 111-SC-198304.

111-SC-198304
Local Identifier: 111-SC-198304, Original caption: “Bastogne, Belgium–Weary infantrymen of the 110th Regt., 28th Div., US 1st Army following the German breakthrough in that area. The enemy overran their battalion. (L-R) Pvt. Adam H. Davis and T/S Milford A. Sillars. Dec. 19, 1944”

 

Important Tips

It is helpful to know of a few gaps within the series that may cause difficulty while searching. First, a portion of the index covering last names that start with J thorough K were never transferred to NARA and it is unknown where they could be located. Next, a few cards within the index have only the “Field Number” and no associated or clear Signal Corps number. For example, a card may have only the number “FEC-49-2102,” and no easily identifiable six digit number.

This index card is an example where there is no clear Signal Corps number. In this instance, unfortunately, we are unable to easily locate the related photograph. The “Field Number” is outlined in red.

Field Number

 

Examples of Signal Corps Numbers

Below are a few examples of what Signal Corps numbers could look like on the individual index cards. In order to locate the Signal Corps image, we would need a six-digit number, oftentimes preceded by a “SC.” The Signal Corps numbers are outlined in red.

 

This card is an example of a Signal Corps number preceded by an “SC.”

530686-181-0007

This card is an example of a range of photograph numbers. A total of 17 photos by the identifier numbers 111-SC-443151 to 111-SC-443167 are of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in Holland on November 29, 1944.

530686-084-0751

This card is an example of multiple Signal Corps numbers listed but not necessarily a straight range of photographs. In this instance, a total of 6 photographs are of Mrs. Robert L. Eichelberger. The associated Signal Corps numbers are 111-SC-283302, 111-SC-28327, 111-SC-308723, 111-SC-308988, 111-SC-308989, and 111-SC-523874.

530686-084-0462

 

Obtaining Copies

The index cards have Signal Corps numbers associated with each name, which are the individual photograph identifier numbers. The numbers are typically five to six digits and oftentimes preceded by “SC.” These numbers align to various series of records within the Still Picture Branch, but will primarily align to the series 111-SC: Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 – ca. 1981. For example, the complete Signal Corps number would combine “111-SC” and the six digit Signal Corps number to be “111-SC-XXXXXX.” However, the majority of photographs within 111-SC have not been digitized. If you do locate an image that you would be interested in viewing, we invite you to our College Park Research Room to view the photo and any other related photographs as well.

 

Additional Resources

Searching the National Archives Catalog for Still Photographs: https://unwritten-record.blogs.archives.gov/2020/04/21/searching-the-national-archives-catalog-for-still-photographs/

Using the National Archives Catalog: https://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/help/using.html 

National Archives Catalog Search Tips: https://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/help/search-tips.html 

National Archives Catalog Guide for Genealogists and Family Historians: https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/catalog-guide 

If you have questions about still photographs, you may contact the Still Picture Branch at stillpix@nara.gov.

 

2 thoughts on “How to Search Still Photographs for Army Personalities

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.