In an old carrying case at the Washington Navy Yard, researchers recently found a photographic treasure from the Spanish-American War more than a century ago and the Philippine insurrection that followed.
The collection included rare photos of ships firing in Manila Bay and images of troops ashore at the onset of what would become a bloody campaign to occupy the Philippines.
“It’s timed out really well” to have the glass plate images available on line for the Memorial Day commemorations of all the nation’s wars, said Lisa Crunk, a researcher at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Photo Archive.
The Spanish-American War find was part of a push by the Navy and all the services to sort through the backlog of material in their archives to make the military heritage information available on line to the public. The Navy collection can be seen here.
In the archives of the Air Force Academy, there’s a grainy photo of a 22-year-old 2nd Lt. James H. Doolittle doing a back flip in uniform near some tents at San Antonio’s Kelly Field in 1918.
The reason for the flip is unknown, but the photo captured the maverick spirit of the pioneer aviator that he was to imbue in the “Doolittle Raiders” for their legendary 1942 mission over Tokyo in World War II.
Doolittle donated his papers to the McDermott Library at the Air Force Academy and the images are available here.
The Library also features on line the “Genesis of Flight,” based on the Aeronautical History Collection of Col. Richard Gimbel with more than 10,000 aviation prints, engravings and other artifacts.
The material is available to the public but “our first mission really is to the cadets” of the Academy in going on line, said Dr. Mary Elizabeth Ruwell, the chief of Special Collections at the Academy.
For the 18-22 year olds, “the computer is their window on the world,” Ruwell said.