National Air and Space Museum Archives

William F. Meggers Aerial Photography Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NASM.XXXX.0280
Creators:
Meggers, William F., 1888-1966
Dates:
1918-1920
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
2.71 Cubic feet
4 photo albums, 384 glass plate negatives
Repository:
This collection consists predominantly of aerial photography of the Washington, D.C. area created by Dr. William F. Meggers (1888 - 1966), a noted physicist and spectroscopist at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), as part of a research project on sensitizing glass plate negatives which he carried out during the period 1918 to 1919. The collection includes 384 glass negatives (predominantly 4 x 5 inches, with some 5 x 7 inches), four photo albums, several folders of loose photographs, and a document.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection, which consists predominantly of aerial photography from the period 1918 to 1919, contains 384 glass negatives (predominantly 4 x 5 inches, with some 5 x 7 inches), four photo albums, several folders of loose photographs, and a document.
Series 1 of the collection consists of material donated in 1967 by the Meggers family and includes four photo albums of print photographs, 85 loose print photographs, a photocopy of Meggers' and Stimson's 1920 article "Dyes for Photographic Sensitizing," and 263 glass negatives. One of the albums has prints of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area (such as Arlington, Virginia, and the Great Falls of the Potomac). In addition to the aerial photography, there are a few views of the Fokker DH-4M-2 (Atlantic Model 1) biplanes used for the photography flights. Another of the albums contains images of Niagara Falls and the surrounding countryside. The third and fourth albums contain images predominantly from unidentified locations, except for some showing Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort, Hampton, Virginia. Photographs found in the albums are believed to be prints from negatives in the collection.
Series 2 of the collection consists of 119 4 x 5 inch glass negatives (almost all aerial photographs of the Washington, D.C. area) transferred on November 17, 2011, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (formerly the National Bureau of Standards). Views of northwest Washington, D.C., include the National Bureau of Standards campus on Peirce Mill Road; the original Wardman Park Hotel in the Woodley Park neighborhood; the William Howard Taft Bridge (Connecticut Avenue NW) across Rock Creek and surrounding Mount Pleasant, Woodley Park, Lanier Heights, and Kalorama Heights neighborhoods; the National Zoological Park (later the Smithsonian National Zoological Park) in Rock Creek Park; new homes in the Richmond Park neighborhood; the McMillan Reservoir, Filtration Plant, and Sand Filtration Site; and the United States Naval Observatory and Observatory Circle area. Views of the National Mall area include the Smithsonian Institution Castle, the United States National Museum (later the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History), the Washington Monument and newly-constructed Lincoln Memorial, and extensive War Office buildings. Views of the Capitol Hill area include the United States Capitol Building, the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, the Hart Senate and Cannon House office buildings, and Union Station. Views of southeast Washington, D.C. include Bolling Field (military airfield) and the Anacostia River and surrounding area. Views made across the Potomac River feature Arlington National Cemetery, including multiple views of the newly-constructed Memorial Amphitheater. This series also contains a few images of the Potomac River waterfront areas of Alexandria, Virginia, including the Torpedo Factory at the foot of King Street and the Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation docks at Jones Point, and—farther downriver—views of George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The materials are divided into two series. Series 1 consists of the original 1967 acquisition donated by the Meggers family, with the materials are subdivided by format. Subseries 1.A consists of the four photo albums; Subseries 1.B consists of loose black and white print photographs found inside the front cover of Photo Album 3 [NASM-9A19047] and grouped by location; Subseries 1.C contains materials relating to Dr. Meggers; and Subseries 1.D consists of glass plate negatives. Series 2 consists of the additional materials transferred from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2011. All glass plate negatives are presented in the order they were received from the donors.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Dr. William F. Meggers (1888 - 1966) was a noted physicist and spectroscopist at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). In 1918, Meggers conducted a NBS research project on sensitizing glass plate negatives and the effectiveness of certain aerial cameras. The glass plate negatives were aerial shots of the Washington, D.C. area taken from a Fokker (Atlantic) aircraft. The flights were made from Bolling Field and a field near Port Comfort, Virginia [now known as Old Point Comfort, Hampton, Virginia]. The results from Meggers' study were published in
The Journal of the Optical Society of America
, 1920. [See: W. F. Meggers and F. J. Stimson, "Dyes for Photographic Sensitizing,
Journal of the Optical Society of America
, Vol. IV, Number 3, May 1920.]

Administration
Author
Melissa A. N. Keiser
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Dr. William Meggers via daughter Dr. Betty J. Meggers, gift, 1967, NASM.XXXX.0280; additional material received from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), transfer, 2011
Processing Information
Arranged and described by Patti Williams, 2012; revised and encoded by Melissa A. N. Keiser, 2022.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access
Preferred Citation
William F. Meggers Aerial Photography Collection, Acc. NASM.XXXX.0280, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Aerial photography Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aerial photography -- Equipment and supplies Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Spectrum analysis Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aerial Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington (D.C.) -- 1910-1920 Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington D.C. -- Photographs Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Meggers, William F., 1888-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. National Bureau of Standards Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151
NASMRefDesk@si.edu