National Archives Starts Digitizing Lighthouse Photos

spring at NA lores
Spring has arrived at the National Archives! Photo by Candace Clifford

Happy Spring!

As many of you know the primary resource for lighthouse photos at the National Archives is RG 26 LG “Lighthouses, 1855 to 1933.” These images are fragile and cannot be scanned by researchers so the National Archives has begun a digitizing project to provide them online. I’m happy to report that some have made it into their online catalog!

The images are organized geographically so the first box starts with Maine in the 1st Lighthouse District and the boxes end with Alaska and Hawaii.  There are over a 100 boxes of images so at the rate they’re going it may take years before they are all available. (So far they have made it to Marshall Point, Maine.)

The National Archives online catalog takes a little getting used too. Start at and click on “more information.”

Image of Avery Rock – 26-LG-1-10 from the National Archives online catalog.

Next scroll down to the “Details” section, open, and click on the link “Search within this Series” which reveals a search box to narrow your choices.  Below the search box is a list of all the stations they have scanned so far.  (They must have scanned a few random images before beginning with the first box.)  Note the first “File Unit” is Avery Rock. Click on the “Avery Rock” to take you to a page for that station.  Now click on “Search within this file unit” to see all the images for that station. Finally click on the photo, view, and download if needed.

You may want to email the Still Pictures branch––and let them know how pleased you are with this project.

Another great source for historic and contemporary lighthouse photos can be found on the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s website. They have put together a fabulous archive of the many lighthouse photos that have ended up in their collection.


  1. says:

    Thanks Candace! B

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. John Havel says:

    Candace… Thank you so much for alerting us all to this wonderful project! As you suggested I will send a note to “stillpix” and let them know how appreciative the lighthouse community is. I was just in College Park this past October to scan the (few) Hatteras photos they hold, but this is still very exciting. Thanks again!

  3. David Gamage says:

    Wow! Great photos of lights and of depots a Little Diamond Island and Bear Island.

  4. Joshism says:

    Great news! I guess they’re working in geographical order?

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