Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Naval History Online Photo Library

Naval History Online Photo Library (by topic) – https://web.archive.org/web/20140528181709/http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org11-2.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What did Navy blimps of the 1920s look like and what were they used for?
  • What did a Grumman F4F “Wildcat” Fighter look like?
  • What was the ship insignia for the _____?

Description:

From the website:

The Online Library is the Photographic Section’s readily accessible index to Naval and maritime history pictures.

Each entry provides a thumbnail image, a caption and the appropriate credit line. “Click” on the thumbnail to access a larger (average 50KB to 150KB) 96 dpi digital image that can usually fit on letter-size paper.

To the best of our knowledge, all Online Library pictures are in the public domain and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose without requesting permission.

The topics on this page are:

  • Aircraft, U.S. Navy – Aircraft from 1911 – 1962
  • Albums & Scrapbooks – Mostly from 1910s, with some from 1939-45 and Vietnam, 1970-71
  • Art Topics – including Ships’ Insignia and Navy Recruiting Posters
  • Awards & Medals
  • Documents – Including Souvenir folders
  • Event – From War with Tripoli (1801) through 1975, including the first flight from a warship (November 1910). Not all images are actually photographs.
  • People – From US, Japan and United Kingdom
  • People – Topics
  • African-Americans and the U.S. Navy
  • Asians, Pacific Islanders and the U.S. Navy
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Nurses and the U.S. Navy
  • “Old Salts …”
  • Women and the U.S. Navy – World War I era Yeomen (F)
  • Women and the U.S. Navy – World War II era WAVES.
  • Places – United States (California and Washington DC, with some photos of the Washington Navy Yard, setting of NCIS)
  • Places – Asia – Vietnam
  • Ships – U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Navy Ships – Listed Alphabetically by Name
  • U.S. Navy Ships – Listed by Hull Number
  • U.S. Navy Ship Types
  • Ships of Other U.S. Government Agencies, State Government and the Confederate States
  • Ships Of Foreign Navies And Government Agencies
  • Merchant Ships And Other Civil-Use Ships
  • Ship Color Schemes, Camouflage And Markings (From WWII)
  • Weapons And Sensors (Radar)

The main use of this resource for writers will be as an aid to describing ships, people and locales from specific historical periods. It would be well worth your time to spend time scrutinizing the Events page. In addition to offering the first pictures of a plane taking off from a warship, it also covers things like the 1918 Influenza pandemic and at least one of the Suez canal crisis’

UPDATE 1/19/2015 – While I’ve provided you with the Internet Archive version, the live site is still available but seriously restructured in a way I think makes it harder to access the photos you may want to see.

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