Finding photos of the
American North Russia Expeditionary Force (ANREF), 1918-1919


Signal Corps Photographic Unit with the AEF North Russia, 25 June 1919
US Army Signal Corps photo SC-62503


Motion Pictures

The US Army Signal Corps produced at least (50) minutes of 16mm black & white motion picture film while in North Russia, which are also archived by NARA and which can be purchased on DVD from a private company (more information here). NARA II in College Park also houses the textual records of the ANREF.  The Canadian War Records Office oversaw the production of motion picture reports from the field that documented the Canadian contribution to the war effort not only on the Western Front but also in North Russia. Canada's National Film Board has archived the Canadian Expeditionary Force WW I film footage and has made it available for viewing on-line at their "Images of a Forgotten War" web site. Their North Russia footage totals more than 40 minutes and is titled "With General Ironside's Forces in North Russia". It contains embedded scene titles and is presented in four parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Still Photos

(42) pages of typewritten captions exist that describe (510) US Army Signal Corps (SC) photos that were taken by their photographers in North Russia. These photos are all archived in the National Archive's "Still Pictures" section that is located on the fifth floor of the NARA II building in College Park, MD. 

Click here to browse all (42) pages of Signal Corps still photo captions, which are complied in order of increasing SC number. The SC number is usually found in the lower left hand corner of the image, next to the U.S. Army Signal Corps logo. Many of the captions identify the subjects in the photo by their name, rank and/or unit.

The National Archives has digitized and made numerous photos from their Still Pictures archives available on-line through their Archival Research Catalogue (ARC) but it apparently only includes five that were taken of ANREF activities in North Russia.  These five were apparently digitized for the purpose of including them in their "War & Conflict" CD . Click here to preview and download a high-res image of any photo on this CD, including these five:

1) HD-SN-99-02025 , which is an undated (likely June 1919) photo that was taken by the Central News Photo Service [American troops in Russian port about to leave that country. They are here cheering and displaying the stars and stripes as the tender was coming for them. Ca. 1919-20. Central News Photo Service. (War Dept.) EXACT DATE SHOT UNKNOWN, NARA FILE #: 165-WW-489A-22 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 366]

2) HD-SN-99-02024, which is SC-62503 (above) [Signal Corps Photographic Unit with A.E.F. North Russia. Lieut. Chas. I. Reid at the left; Master Signal Electrician Grier M. Shotwell at the right. In the background is the Monastery Church of Archangel. June 25, 1919. (Army) NARA FILE #: 111-SC-62503 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 365, Date Shot: 25 Jun 1919]

3) HD-SN-99-02020, which is SC-152780 [Dinner served in a box car on the Vologda railroad carrying the Red Cross gifts to Americans at the front. The thermometer registered 10 degrees below zero at the time the picture was taken. In the picture, left to right: 1st cl. Pvt. James H. Howell, 337th Field Hospital, Lt. Geo. Pollats, A.R.C., who was in charge of the distribution of the gifts, and Pvt. Clyde Creaser, HQ Co.; Bakharitza, December 17, 1918. Sgt. Grier M. Shotwell. (Army) NARA FILE #: 111-SC-152780 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 361, Camera Operator: SGT. GRIER M. SHOTWELL Date Shot: 17 Dec 1918] Webmaster's note: the Signal Corps official caption for photo SC-152792 indicates that James H. Howell was an officer in the 337th Field Hospital and that he was an "Acting Dental Surgeon"; the Bentley Library Polar Bear database indicates that he held the rank of Lt. Col.

4) HD-SN-99-02022, which is SC-152798 [Colonel Geo. E. Stewart, commanding American forces in Northern Russia, passing by convoy through village of Chamova on his return from Dwina River front at Touglas to Archangel. December 31, 1918. Sgt. Grier M. Shotwell (Army) NARA FILE #: 111-SC-152798 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 363, Camera Operator: SGT. GRIER M. SHOTWELL Date Shot: 31 Dec 1918]

5) HD-SN-99-02023, which is SC-161688 [American officers frequently employed reindeer teams in crossing the Dwina River and in going out Archangel. Here are two officers with a team they have just engaged. A Russian young lady is also a passenger. March 7, 1919. Sgt. Grier M. Shotwell. (Army) NARA FILE #: 111-SC-161688 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 364, Camera Operator: SGT. GRIER M. SHOTWELL Date Shot: 7 Mar 1919]

If you are unable to find a specific Signal Corps still photo or wish to obtain a higher resolution version, you can visit NARA II and make them yourself or you can order them directly through one of the local photographic vendors who are authorized by NARA to make photographic reproductions of images in their archives. When I visited NARA II in June of 2003, the Still Pictures research room had a pair of photographic copy stands available for free use by the public, plus a Kodak Picture Maker self-service kiosk, which for $5 could make an 8 x 10 inch enlargement copy of an archived print that was even more detailed and sharper than the original print. NARA II's archived North Russia Signal Corps photos are all prints that are mounted on pieces of cardboard.

More information on how to order copies of photos in the Still Pictures archives can be found on this page. The cost for ordering reproductions through a vendor can be minimized if you provide as much information as possible so they can quickly locate the Still Pictures "finding aids" and request the correct box in which the desired archived print(s) are stored. Ideally, you want to be able to give the vendor a complete citation for each desired image. A complete citation for a North Russia Signal Corps photo follows the format "Record Group - Series - Box no. - photograph no." and an example would look like this:

111-SC - WW I - 474 - 62486

The relevant National Archives information for citing the US Army Signal Corps photos taken in North Russia is as follows:

Record Group (RG): 111-SC

Series: WW I

Known box locations for selected photos:

Box 254: photos # 34618, 34621
Box 474: photo # 62486
Box 845: photos # 161081, 161083, 161084, 161100, 161101, 161102


The Still Pictures staff may be able to give you the box number information in writing for a desired photo(s) if you give them the Record Group and Series information, the SC photo number(s) and the finding aid location. As of June 2003, the finding aids for the Signal Corps North Russia photos were stored in the NARA II Still Photos Research Room, 5th Floor, Cabinet #6, rear of Drawer #2, Folders 46 (North Russia) and 50 (Siberia & N. Russia). The finding aids were just copies of the Signal Corps caption sheets to which the box numbers had been added.

Here is their contact information:

Mail: Still Picture Reference (NWCS-Stills Reference)
Room 5360
National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone: 301-837-0561
FAX: 301-837-3621
(Please include a complete postal mailing address and a daytime phone number in your E-mail)

The 310th Engineers had their own photographer in North Russia and they made prints available to the men of the 310th upon their return home. Pvt. Cash Nowak of Company B, 310th Engineers purchased almost every one of the available prints and mounted them in a dedicated photo album. His son, Roy Nowak, graciously allowed those 240 prints to be scanned and posted here at the Polar Bear Memorial Association web site.  Because they all had handwritten captions on the negative, a list of captions was apparently never prepared for the 310th photos.

Mike Grobbel
Created:13 Sept. 2008; Last revised: 15 April 2013


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