Research Tips: Researching and Downloading A.E.F. Signal Corps Photographs

Signal Corps Photo #23546, dated 15 September, 1918: 131st Regimental Transport, 33rd Division at trains getting rations for the 33rd Div., Germonville, Meuse, France

The Signal Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces took more than 70,000 photographs during the First World War. Most of the photographs are available online at the National Archives’ website. This post will explain how to find them in simple English.

Step 1: Find and download the “Catalogue of Official A.E.F. Photographs taken by The Signal Corps, U.S.A.” It was published by the Government Printing Office in 1919 and can be easily downloaded. (The book is 590 pages. The webmaster’s downloaded copy is 64,415 KB large!)

Step 2: Use the Catalogue to research a topic. The Catalogue is organized in sections by: 1) A.E.F. number, 2) military unit, 3) person, 4) place, 5) subject, 6) caption.

Step 3: Begin a search on the National Archive’s website at

Step 4: Type in “111-SC-xxxxx” where xxxxx = the number of the photograph. (The Signal Corps photos are held in Record Group 111 at the National Archives.)

Step 5: Download and save the photograph. Most are in jpeg format.

Warning: These files can range from about 8,000 – 25,000 KB. Therefore, it can take several minutes to download if the reader has a slow internet connection.

Tip: Readers should use Google Maps or a similar program to identify the location. For example, France has several towns named Germonville in Google Maps. The Webmaster believes the correct one is Germonville, Formereville-les-Vallons, which is situated a few kilometers south of Chattancourt.

Note: The Griffin Group Photographs are NOT held in Record Group 111.