General Douglas MacArthur’s Strategic World War II Maps

General Douglas MacArthur served as the commander of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East during World War II. During the war, MacArthur led the campaign in the Pacific theater for the Army. In 1966, the Department of the Army published two volumes of reports of MacArthur’s involvement in the war. These reports describe and illustrate numerous battles in Japan and the Philippines that MacArthur helped plan. Alongside the reports, maps and charts were also included, adding a visual dimension to the battles fought in the Pacific. Many of these maps can be found in the Cartographic Branch here at the National Archives.



RG 496, General MacArthur Report Maps, Vol. 1, Plate 58: Leyte Assault, 20-25 October 1944 (compilation materials and completed map)

We have most of the completed and published maps that appear in the volumes, but the majority of what we have are other compilation materials. Included are illustrations and designs that show different aspects and sections of what would become the final map. Some of these items are hand-drawn designs while others include painted portions. Some also include plastic sheets that highlight particular parts of the map, such as troop movements and army locations, which would be overlaid on the base map in the published version. By looking through the folders, one can get a sense of how the pieces fit together and how they were used to highlight aspects of each map. Comparing the compilation materials with the published maps gives a greater sense of how they were created to show the whole story.



RG 496, General MacArthur Report Maps, Vol. 1, Plate 130: Aerial Bombardment of Japan (compilation materials and completed map)

The MacArthur report maps highlight some of the most significant battles of the war. They give insight into how MacArthur approached situations in the Pacific and how he planned for action. Included are strategic maps for the Battle of Manila, the Leyte Assault, the re-taking of Bataan and allied landings in Japan. Many maps show the disposition of enemy forces and their movements. By providing information about how these battles were planned, the maps present a very detailed and informative look at how MacArthur and the allied forces approached the war.


Vol. 1, Plate 112: “Downfall” Plan for the Invasion of Japan, 28 May 1945

Even for researchers who have a strong understanding of this campaign, these maps highlight aspects and details of the Army’s planning that many will find useful. In total, there are approximately 2,400 items included in the series covering a significant portion of the war. Keeping in mind that the maps originate with MacArthur himself, they represent an important part of the story of World War II and they help to paint a complete picture of the war. You can learn more about this series in the National Archives catalog here.

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“Who Has Given More Than The Indian?”

The following photo essay and accompanying poem were recently discovered in an accession of Indian Health Service records. The work appears to be attributed to Mr. Allan Cayous. The content and captions are all original to the author and the intended order of presentation has been preserved in this blog post to the best of my ability.

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World War II Veteran Lloyd Heller Shares Details About Production of 1943 Tank Training Film

In August, an e-mail came to motion picture archivist Carol Swain’s inbox asking about a World War II training film called Security on the March. Richard Herde contacted the Motion Picture unit looking for information about a film his 100-year-old uncle, Corporal Lloyd Heller, had helped make while serving as a tanker in the United States Army. As luck would have it, Heller remembered the exact title of the film, which made it much easier to find, and a beautiful 35mm negative was preserved here at the National Archives. The motion picture preservation lab scanned Security on the March and made a DVD so that Heller could view the film for the first time in over 70 years.

Security on the March (1943) is an instructional film that teaches viewers the safest way to evade detection while traveling in tanks. For example, a tanker should never leave his goggles on the top of his head during the day, or light a cigarette at night. Either could lead to discovery by planes flying overhead.

We do not hold a production file for Security on the March, but Lloyd Heller was able to fill in some of the details about how the film was made. His own involvement began when he and another soldier were the first to finish a grueling hike while in training at Camp Cooke in California. The two were given the option of two plum assignments: running the Golden Gate Bridge marathon or making a training film in Hollywood. The two men rolled dice, agreeing that whoever rolled the higher number would get to choose. Heller rolled an eleven, and said that “of course” he chose Hollywood.

What followed were 28 “long, hot” days on the Warner Brothers lot, with Heller serving as gunner in the command tank. While we never see him on film, Heller’s tank is the third in the column. Heller and the rest of the soldiers working on the production lived in a tent city on the Warner Brothers lot for the month of July. While there, he was able to see Hollywood and spotted several movie stars.

Lloyd Heller’s photographs from the production of Security on the March
(Courtesy of Richard Herde)

After completing the film, Lloyd Heller shipped out to Europe, where he earned three battle stars as a member of the 6th Armored Division, 68th Tank Battalion. He participated in the invasion of Normandy, and received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the Seige of Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge. He spent seven months in the hospital, and was released the day after the war ended.


Lloyd Heller visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight, June 2014. (Photo courtesy of Richard Herde)

See Lloyd Heller speaking about his war experience in this television interview. Thank you to Mr. Heller and Richard Herde, who contacted us and answered our questions about the film.

*Updated 11/11/2016 with addition pictures from the production of the film.

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Projections of America: Tuesday in November and the 1944 Election

During World War II, films were a vital part of the war effort. Films trained, entertained, and informed our troops, and films distributed information to the American public who, before the advent of television, had a serious movie-going habit. Very early on, the Office of War Information (OWI) also established an overseas branch, which would do the work of explaining America to war-torn countries that had experienced years of anti-American propaganda and totalitarian regimes. In some cases, European cities were liberated for mere days before American films were projected onto screens. Some of the films were classic Hollywood entertainment, while others were government productions that presented a vision of American life, ideals, and values. One such film was Tuesday in November, a film about the 1944 election and the United States’ system of government.

On its face, Tuesday in November is a straightforward educational film. We see citizens of a fictional California town vote and serve as election officials. An animated primer explains the branches of government. The townspeople argue politics and then set their animus aside at the conclusion of the election. We also see President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and opponent Thomas E. Dewey cast their ballots. Above all, the film places citizen participation at the center of America’s democracy. The electoral process depicted is undeniably idealized, but the film still works remarkably well as a lesson in civics.

Stills from Tuesday in November (1944) demonstrate the United States’ electoral process.

Tuesday in November was part of the OWI’s “Projections of America” series shown to towns and cities liberated by the Allies during World War II. The films covered a wide range of topics, including the Swedish diaspora in America, a town adjusting to an influx of refugees, and the story of a Jeep, told from the popular vehicle’s perspective. The films were made by well-regarded screenwriters and documentarians such as Alexander Hammid and Irving Jacoby. Robert Riskin, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of many of Frank Capra’s classics, oversaw the films’ production.

While the “Projections of America” series was made by the Office of War Information, the United States Information Agency and the State Department used the films for overseas screenings long after the OWI was dissolved in 1945. They ended up scattered across several record groups, but now many of them have been digitized. Swedes in America (starring Ingrid Bergman), Steel Town, Valley of the Tennessee, The Town, The Cummington Story, and Hymn of the Nations can be viewed by clicking on the embedded links.

For much more on Robert Riskin and the film series, see the recent documentary Projections of America.

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Photographs of Military Mascots in WWI


“John Bull” – the mascot of the 77th Aero Force. 165-WW-472A-49

Years before the United States Marine Corps officially adopted the bulldog as its mascot or the United States Military academy adopted the mule, many military regiments adopted mascots and pets. Some were donated by local groups and many were found.

Many of these mascots had jobs, whether utilitarian or ceremonial. Pigeons carried messages, dogs helped to lay telephone wires, and mules carried supplies and soldiers. However, most of the mascots provided kinship and comfort to the soldiers and were noted to significantly boost their morale.

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NARA is currently completing a large-scale project to digitize photographs and films from World War I, including these photographs from 165-WW, American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918. Check back soon for updates on this project.

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Spotlight: Baking in WWI

Ever wonder what people of the past were munching on? Well, in WWI, due to food rationing efforts, they were munching on some classic desserts made with unusual ingredient substitutions. Check out some of those experimental recipes below, courtesy of RG 4-G: the U.S. Food Administration.

























Unfortunately, not all of the experimental recipes survive today. Here is a slideshow of several delicious desserts for which we only have pictures.

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Anyone care to share their favorite recipes for these treats? Or, should anyone be daring enough to try out one of these WWI era recipes, let us know how they turn out!

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Universal News: The Chicago Cubs vs. the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series

The Cubs are in the playoffs and could make it to the World Series. Is this their year? They haven’t won the World Series since 1908 and haven’t played in a World Series since 1945. Some people have attributed the World Series drought to a curse by Billy Sianis, who was ejected from Wrigley Field for bringing his goat to game 4. The Unwritten Record takes a look back to 1945, the last World Series the Chicago Cubs played. Universal News covered the first and last games of the series. The footage was released to theaters October 4th and October 11th.

Game one, played in Detroit October 3rd, 1945, is shown in Universal News Vol. 18, Rel. 439, story 5. According to the release sheet, we see “The Chicago Cubs tee off on the Detroit Tiger’s ace pitcher, Hal Newhouser, for four runs in the first inning, then garner three more in the third, to salt away the game which they finally won 9 to 0”.

The final game of the series, played in Chicago, is shown in Universal News Vol. 18, Rel. 441 story 7. The outcome wasn’t great for Cubs fans: On October 10th, the Tigers took the series four games to three by beating the Cubs 9 to 3 in game seven. The release sheet states: “The Detroit American League pennant winners rout the Windy City’s Cubs in the 7th game, 9 to 3, to take the World Series. The flag winner was decided in the first inning when the Tigers pushed five runs across to take a commanding lead. More than 330,000 paid almost a million and a half dollars in admissions to make it the richest World Series in history.”

Also included in the Universal News production files is an original program for the games, narration scripts, and other related paraphernalia. A program from the series gives the names and photographs of the players from both teams. The last page of the program pays tribute to the 347 members of the Cubs organization who served during World War II, including four men who perished.

1945 World Series program for games hosted in Chicago:


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Home Movie Day 2016: Preserving the Films of Albert M. Breen

In honor of Home Movie Day, we’re featuring a collection of home movies recently preserved by the Motion Picture Preservation Lab and providing some tips for how to care for your home movies. Home Movie Day is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of home movies and encourage their preservation. This year’s Home Movie Day is October 15th, but your local event may be held at any time throughout the year. (See the Center for Home Movies website to find a HMD near you.)

Albert Breen’s Home Movies

Home movies usually end up in the National Archives’ holdings because they were collected by a federal agency (think UFO sightings in the Project Blue Book films). This includes the most famous home movie of all time—the Zapruder film, which captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on a succession of tiny 8mm frames. Home movies don’t have to be historically significant to be important, however. Many would argue that these films, which document the mundane aspects of family life, from birthday parties to outdoor barbecues, make up an important part of our nation’s cultural history, as well as serving as a precious family record.


Home movies capture the ordinary moments, but that does not mean they are unimportant. (Still from Albert Breen Home Movies, Reel 17)

The family of Albert Breen donated his home movie collection, shot over three decades, to the National Park Service in the late 1990s, and it recently came to the National Archives for long-term preservation. In addition to shots of children and grandchildren at play, the films feature the Breen family’s many trips to national parks around the country, from Skyline Drive to Sequoia National Park.

Albert M. Breen was born in Brecksville, Ohio, in 1894 and lived his adult life in the suburbs of Cleveland, working as the vice president and treasurer of Richman Bros. Co. Breen started filming black and white reversal in 1929 and switched to color with the advent of Kodachrome in 1935. The last reel in the collection was shot in 1963. Breen was clearly a serious hobbyist, and edited his films to include descriptive intertitles with his initials embedded in the frame.


A still from Albert Breen’s home movies shows the custom intertitles Breen edited into his films.

The Motion Picture Preservation Lab recently preserved this collection of 31 reels of 16mm film. Nearly half of the reels had high shrinkage, and a quarter were suffering from vinegar syndrome, a form of deterioration in which the film base breaks down and leads to a number of physical problems. The lab made new polyester film elements for all of the reels with high shrinkage and vinegar syndrome. All of the reels were inspected and transferred to archival film cans.

The lab has digitized three of the reels for access.

Reel 1, shot in 1929, depicts the Breen family close to home, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and at the family farm in Brecksville. The little girl in the film is probably Breen’s daughter, Gladys.

Reel 8, shot in 1935, contains Breen’s first use of color film (beginning at about 5:00). Unfortunately, the first batches of Kodachrome were not very stable, so the color is mostly faded. The reel covers the family’s trip to Yellowstone Park, where they get uncomfortably close to a family of bears, as well as trips to Pikes Peak and other locations in Colorado.

Reel 17 was shot in 1949. The reel begins with Breen’s granddaughter, Judith, playing outdoors, and continues with footage of trips to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, Painted Desert, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Preserving Your Home Movies

Even for the well-meaning family historian, home movies often become forgotten family artifacts that stay hidden in basements and attics. Experiencing an old photo album is as simple as opening the pages. A scanner or even a smart phone allows easy sharing with relatives. Films, however, require equipment to be viewed, which is a significant barrier to access for an individual who may not know what happened to the family projector or who worries that a machine may damage them. So how can you ensure that your home movies will be viewable for decades to come?


First and most important when it comes to preservation is proper storage. At NARA, we store film in climate-controlled vaults that were specifically designed for film. Of course, most people don’t have a film vault in their houses, but if you want your films to last longer, store them on the main floor of your house, which likely has the most stable temperature and humidity levels throughout the year. Typical storage places in your home, like basements and attics, are terrible for film. The heat and humidity common in these spaces cause film to deteriorate more rapidly than if they are stored in a climate-controlled space. Worse, if your basement floods, the films may be unrecoverable.

Viewing Home Movies

While it is still possible to view home movies with a projector and screen, the way they were originally seen, you should approach this with caution. Be sure that your films are not highly shrunken or damaged, and that your projector is clean and in good working order. Finding a Home Movie Day event in your area is a good way to get a quick assessment of your films and perhaps see one screened.


For longer-term access, you probably want to have your films digitized. While you should be skeptical of any company that claims that they will “preserve” your home movies by transferring them to DVD, this is an easy access format will enable you to view and share your films with others. Just remember that the original film will probably last longer than any format you transfer to, so continue to protect it for the future. You will also need to migrate the copy to newer formats from time to time.

Already transferred your home movies to VHS in the 1990s? Digitize those now or you won’t be able to view them much longer—VCRs are officially obsolete. You could also spring for a new digital transfer of the film originals, but you still need to maintain the data in multiple places and keep up with new formats to ensure that your files are preserved and accessible for years to come.

For much more on how to view and preserve your home movies, check out the recommendations from the Center for Home Movies.

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Spotlight: War Time Candies

Imagine a world where no one could give chocolates to their valentine, or send holiday cookies to their family, or hand out candy to adorable trick-or-treaters, or indulge in some after dinner Thanksgiving pie. Imagine a world where every cherished culinary tradition is threatened – especially those traditions which include sweets.

Well, such a world is not as far away as one might think. During WWI, rationing efforts did affect how the American public ate. The availability and consumption of sugar was put under particular duress. Thankfully, however, where there’s a will there’s a way. And there is always a way to satisfy one’s sweet tooth. See how in this week’s images from from RG 4-G: the U.S. Food Administration!



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Spotlight: American Cities

This week’s images are streetscapes of American cities from 1917 and 1918. Images were pulled from RG 4-G: U.S.Food Administration. Do you recognize any of these places? Can you imagine walking along these streets during WWI?



Unknown City (4-G-29-75)


Palace Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio (4-G-29-29)


Sign Day, Washington, DC (4-G-29-110B)


Red Cross Headquarters, Chicishaw (sic), Oklahoma (4-G-29-47)


Colonial Theater, Richmond, Virginia (4-G-29-76)


Unknown City (4-G-29-7)


Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio (4-G-29-66)


City Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4-G-29-3)


Balto (sic), Maryland (4-G-25-3)


Slate St., Albany, New York (4-G-25-2)


N.Y. City – Longacre Sq (4-G-26-6)



Kress & Co., Houston (?), Texas (4-G-29-108)

For more on WWI era food rationing, see “Spotlight: War Time Candies” and “Spotlight: Baking in WWI.

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