As the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Turns 100, We Look Back at Cartographic Records Spanning the History of Arlington National Cemetery

For a century, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been the centerpiece of Arlington National Cemetery. This solemn memorial, the final resting place of three unknown members of the American military, holds a special place in the hearts and minds of American citizens as we reflect upon the meaning of service and sacrifice this Veterans Day.

I recently had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion entitled, “Here Rests in Honored Glory,” in which I outlined the holdings of the Cartographic Branch related to Arlington National Cemetery, which can be viewed using the link to the presentation provided above.

The Cartographic Branch is home to several record series containing records relating to Arlington National Cemetery, including RGs 66, 77, 79, and 92.  Though none of the records relate specifically to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Cartographic Branch holds a number of records relating to Arlington National Cemetery as a whole and the areas that would one day become part of the cemetery.

I invite you to continue reading for a detailed listing of series relating to this hallowed space and some examples of the types of items that one might expect to find in each of the series.

RG 66: Architectural Drawings of Buildings in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, 1910 – 1952 (NAID 643559)

This series consists primarily of architectural plans and detailed maps of buildings and other structures and areas in and around Washington D.C.

66: Architectural Drawings of Buildings in 
the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, 1910 – 1952 (NAID 643559).  
Arlington Cemetery, General, #03. August 14, 1912.
RG 66: Architectural Drawings of Buildings in the Washington 
D.C. Metropolitan Area, 1910 – 1952 (NAID 643559)
Arlington Cemetery, General, #11.  January 2, 1920.

RG 77: Maps and Plans of Arlington National Cemetery, ca. 1913 – ca. 1965 (NAID:2067635)

This series consists of architectural plans for the Memorial Amphitheatre, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and other structures at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Architectural plans include floor plans, elevations, sections, and details of the stonework and other features. Also included are maps and site plans for the cemetery.

RG 77:  Maps and Plans of Arlington National Cemetery, ca. 1913 – ca. 1965.  
(NAID 109182718)
Marble Panels for Sculpture above Main Entrance, 
Reception Building, Memorial Amphitheatre, 1/20/1934.

RG 79: National Capital Parks Numbered Drawings, 1797 – 1987 (NAID: 305815)

This series consists of manuscript, annotated, published, and photo processed maps, plans, and drawings relating to the properties under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Region and its predecessors.

RG 79: National Capital Parks Numbered Drawings, 1797 – 1987 (NAID 305815).  
Proposed Treatment of Government Experimental Farm as Part 
of Arlington National Cemetery.  July, 1924. # 2.1 – 115. 
RG 79: National Capital Parks Numbered Drawings, 1797 – 1987 (NAID 305815). 
Drawing Illustrating the Design for the Pedestal for the Sculpture in the Center Niche,
 Memorial Entrance, Arlington National Cemetery.  February 11, 1952.  #2.1-96-3.


RG 92: Fortification Construction Plans and Military Reservation Property Surveys (NAID 562281) **Commonly known as “The Blueprint File”**

This series consists of maps and architectural drawings for 329 military installations throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Panama, Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines.

These records include reservation layout plans, structure plans, utility system plans and road maps.

RG 92: Fortification Construction Plans and Military Reservation Property Surveys (NAID 562281) Arlington National Cemetery, #20.

RG 92: U.S. Army Forts and Facilities Maps and Plans, 1820-1939 (NAID: 182787484)

This series consists of site plan maps and architectural drawings for barracks, stables, fortifications, hospitals, and other buildings, including seven architectural drawings of site plans, greenhouse, and vaults at Arlington National Cemetery.


RG 92: U.S. Army Forts and Facilities Maps and Plans, 1820 – ca. 1939 (NAID 109182924).  
Tomb Over Vault – Arlington National Cemetery.

RG 92: Post and Reservation Maps, 1820-1905 (NAID 305818)

This series consists of manuscript and annotated maps and fortification plans. The majority are large-scale plans drawn during the Civil War of barracks, stables, forts, hospitals, and other buildings used by the Quartermaster Corps.

In June of 1863, a Freedmans Village was established in the area that would later become Sections 3, 4, 8, 18, and 20.


RG 92: Post and Reservation Maps, 1820 – 1905 (NAID 305826).  Freedmans Village near Arlington Heights, Va., July 10th, 1865. Genl. [ground] Plan No. 9., 4/10/1865  

For additional Special Media holdings relating to Arlington National Cemetery, see Alexandra Geitz’s recent blog post entitled, “100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moving Image Records” and Alexis Hill’s recent blog post entitled “100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

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