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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Nancy Harkness Collection of World War I Photograph Albums

Identifier: 2014-09-18
The Nancy Harkness Collection is comprised of three albums of World War I photographs, circa 1914-1919. Together the albums contain five hundred and sixty (560) black-and-white photographs and one (1) piece of paper ephemera with handwritten captions. The photos center primarily around American air squadrons stationed along the French-German border, while also including a number of images of enemy aircraft, war scenes, and views of European cities. Photos include American servicemen and some women staff; aviators with their aircraft, numerous crashes, aerial reconnaissance photos, and views of airdromes; events such as a decoration ceremony, a visit by the Prince of Wales to troops, and the arrival of various occupation forces in post-war Germany. A number of the images appear to be copy prints and souvenir photos, which were collected by servicemen abroad. Many of these images are battle scenes and German images from the war prior to American entry, as well as shots of significant troop and prisoner movement at the end of the war, and notable people such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Crown Prince Wilhelm, the Prince of Wales, and various German and American aces. Locations include Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Monaco, and Russia.

The albums represent a wide range of the warcraft and aircraft used in the war, including planes such as Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5, Caproni, Sopwith Camel, Halberstadt, SPAD, Breguet, Albatros, Bristol, Hannover, Handley Page, Farman, Salmson, Fokker, and Roland. Shots include aviators with their aircraft, planes on the ground and in flight, crashes, and details of markings and squadron insignia. Please note that not all of the aircraft in this collection are identified. Full identification is forthcoming.

The original owner(s) and/or creator(s) of the albums is unknown, but most likely a member of the United States Army Air Service, possibly an aviator involved in reconnaissance photography. Several captions of images depicting the post-war occupation of the palace in Sinzig suggest that the albums' creator was part of the Air Service IV Corps stationed there. This person may also have been stationed at either Koblenz or Trier after the war with one of the Aero Squadrons.

Please note that some of the albums in this collection contain graphic images of wartime casualties. The captions also make use of derogatory terms for German and French people.


  • circa 1914-1919

Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


1.14 Cubic Feet (1 flat oversize box)


Three albums of World War I photographs depicting various squadrons and corps of the United States Air Service stationed along the French-German border during and after the war.

Historical Notes on Major Squadrons Pictured

12th Aero Squadron

The 12th Aero Squadron was organized June 2, 1917 at San Antonio, Texas. They shipped out via Garden City, New York in November-December 1917, arriving at St. Maxient, France in January 1918. The 12th was assigned to the I Army Corps as an observation unit, also serving with the French VI Army Corps. The squadron moved about various stations in northeastern France, participating in the important Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. The 12th reached Mercy-le-Haut, France shortly after the armistice. Following the war, the squadron became part of the IV Army Corps occupation force in Germany. Traveling through Luxembourg, the 12th arrived at Trier, Germany in early December 1918, then moved on to Koblenz by the end of the month, where they remained through March 1919. In April, the 12th was ordered to demobilize and began its journey back through France, departing from Brest in early June and arriving back in New York a few weeks later. The 12th flew Dorand AR-2, Salmson 2, Airco DH-4, and Curtiss JN-6 and C-1 aircraft.

94th and 95th Aero Squadrons

The 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons were both organized on August 20, 1917 at Kelly Field, Texas. They traveled via Hazelhurst Field, New York to France in October-November 1917, continuing on to Issoudun, France. They were assigned initially to the 1st Pursuit Organization and Training Center with the United States First Army, then the 1st Pursuit Group for the latter half of 1918. They trained and served with both the French Sixth and Eighth Armies. Both squadrons moved about various stations in northeastern France, often in tandem, participating in the important Champagne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Aisne-Marne, St Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. After the armistice, the 94th was assigned to the United States Third Army and became part of the occupation forces stationed at Koblenz, Germany. The 95th traveled home via Brest, France to New York and was officially demobilized on March 18, 1919.

The 95th was the first aero squadron in combat, with the 94th close behind. The two squadrons boasted a number of notable aces, including Eddie Rickenbacker and Raoul Lufbery (94th). President Theodore Roosevelt's son Quentin was also part of the 95th and was killed in action.

Both squadrons flew a variety of aircraft including Nieuport 28, SPAD XIII, Fokker D-VII, Albatros D-V, Pfalz D-III, Roland D-VI, Royal Aircraft Factory SE-5, Airco DH-4 and DH-5, Curtiss JN-4, JN-6, and Orenco D.

Sources and Further Reading:

The U.S. Air Service in World War I. Maxwell AFB, Ala: Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center, 1978-1979.

Harold Buckley and George Puryear. Squadron 95. Paris: The Obelisk Press, 1933.

Charles Woolley. First to the Front: The Aerial Adventures of 1st Lt. Waldo Heinrichs and the 95th Aero Squadron, 1917-1918. Atlgen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 1999. Print.

Charles Woolley. The Hat in the Ring Gang: The Combat History of the 94th Aero Squadron in World War I. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 2001.

United States Air Force. Fact Sheet, "12 Reconnaissance Squadron ACC."

United States Air Force. Fact Sheet, "94 Fighter Squadron ACC."

United States Air Force. Fact Sheet, "95 Fighter Squadron."
Biographical Note: Nancy Harkness Nancy Harkness was part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. No further information is known.

Custodial History

Original owner is unknown. The albums were given to Nancy Harkness while she was a volunteer at Childrens' Hospital from an unidentified family she met through her work at the hospital. The albums had belonged to the family's grandfather. Ms. Harkness has an interest in aviation so donated the albums to The Museum of Flight.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials at the Museum of Flight

The museum has several other collections related to the squadrons pictured in these albums:

Wilbur D. Kennedy Collection. Collection of photographs and other materials relating to the World War I career of pilot Wilbur D. Kennedy. Kennedy served in the 12th Aero Squadron. Many of the images in the Kennedy and Harkness collections are the same or from a slightly different angle; there is a possibility that the photographs were taken and/or curated by the same person.

Captain Hamilton Coolidge Collection. Collection contains materials related to the wartime experience of Captain Hamilton Coolidge, a World War I pilot with the 94th Aero Squadron.

Norman "Jim" Silas Archibald Collection. Collection of correspondence, military documents, photographs, and other materials relating to the life and military service of Archibald during both World War I and II. Archibald served in the 95th Aero Squadron during World War I and later wrote a book about his experience.

Lansing C. Holden Collection. Small collection relating to pilot and ace who served with the 95th in World War I.

Ray M. and Leonard H. Grimshaw Collection. Collection contains correspondence, military documents, photographs, postcards, diary, booklets, and ephemera related to Ray's time with the 95th Aero Squadron, where he served as a mechanic.
Guide to the Nancy Harkness Collection of World War I Photograph Albums
Completed - Level 4
A. Demeter
Description rules
Language of description
Processing, cataloging and digitization of this collection was made possible by a Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) "Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives" grant.
Edition statement
1st Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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