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Military Photographs: Finding Images in the Prints & Photographs Division at the Library of Congress

Spanish-American War and Philippine–American War

The Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that followed are described together because some groups of photos include images of both conflicts. You will sometimes see the former designations for these wars on the photographs or in the catalog records: War of 1898 and Philippine Insurrection. For exhaustive searches, look for the country names during the time periods of the wars.

Three US soldiers seated under a rudimentary tent.
William Dinwiddie, photographer. Primitive field headquarters at Angat. 1899. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

All of the groups of photos listed below are from processed collections and have some digitized images which should be free of copyright protection. The stereograph lots in particular have a large number of images with a wide variety of subjects and are a good place to start for both general photos of the war and specific locations or activities.

Photos related to the Rough Riders, Admiral George Dewey, and the USS Maine can also be found in non-military collections because interest in them lasted long after the wars. For example, we have photos of Dewey speaking at unrelated public events as well as photos of his funeral in 1917. We also have a detailed set of panoramic photos showing the raising of the Maine in 1911.


The majority of stereographs showing the Spanish-American War or the Philippine-American War can be found in the four LOTs described below. Because they show a diverse array of activities, these LOTs are a good place to start when seeking a wide range of material.

LOT 12300 has over 450 stereographs with assorted photos of the Spanish-American War. They are divided up by subject.

LOT 11522 contains 234 stereographs from the Philippine-American War. Most of the photos focus on the US Army, and over 40 cards show Filipino solders, often as prisoners. This LOT shows soldiers in camp and on the battlefield (likely staged), the US Navy in the Philippines, locations where important events or battles occurred, and scenes of the local population.

LOT 11524 contains over 500 stereographs showing the mobilization of US troops in the United States during the Spanish-American War. The majority of the photos were taken in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia, but other states are also included. They show US troops in training, doing recreational activities in camp, loading ships, and interacting with civilians.

LOT 12302 contains 157 stereographs related to the US Navy in the Spanish-American War. Many of the photos show ships, and there are also photos of sailors, and, in at least one case, marines, training, and doing activities aboard ships.

US soldiers with horses on tracks next to a train.
Keystone View Company. Roosevelt's "Rough Rider's" [sic] arrival at Tampa, Fla., U.S.A. 1898. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Detroit Publishing Company

The photos distributed by the Detroit Photographic Company (later Detroit Publishing Company) include many shots taken during the Spanish-American War and its aftermath. The images focus mostly on the US Navy. The majority of the photos were taken around Cuba with a few from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Some photos were taken aboard ships during combat and show sailors at work. Other photos show damage done to US Navy ships, wrecked ships, and scenes ashore. The Detroit Publishing Company negatives are scanned and can be searched in the online catalog. Not all images have a subject heading for the Spanish-American War, so try a mix of search terms including names of ships, place names, and the year 1898.

Photographs of military activities and incidental scenes during the Philippine insurrection, 1899

This LOT is a set of 113 photos of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War taken by Perley Fremont Rockett. Many of them appeared in his book "Our Boys in the Philippines" (Digitized book is available at While the photos are informative, many lack captions. Referring to the book can aid in determining the subject of the photos.

Group of US Army soldiers marching away from camera, a flag bearer is following behind them.
Custom house, Puerto Rico. Wisconsin troops going to front. 1898. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Commercial photographs made during the Spanish-American war, 1898-99

This set of approximately 60 photos are the best source for images taken in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. Most of the photos were taken in or around Ponce and Guanica.

Visual Material from the John J. Pershing Papers

The two albums in LOT 7701 and LOT 10283 and one set of loose photos in LOT 8850 come from the papers of General John J. Pershing who served in the Philippine-American War. Pershing spent much of his time in Mindanao and Jolo, and the photos from those areas are quite numerous. The photos include strong coverage of US soldiers, enemy combatants, US Army facilities, and the local population.

The Spanish-American War in the Philippines

A useful set of Spanish-American War photos taken in the Philippines despite some image fading and lack of captions. Includes photos of US and Spanish fighters as well as Filipino volunteers.

Visual Material from the Henry Ware Lawton papers

These four photograph albums come from the papers of General Henry Ware Lawton and show his service in the Philippines in 1899. The albums include photos of Lawton, other officers, the troops under his command, and their camps and fortifications. The albums also include many photos of local people and places and some photos of enemy combatants.

Cyanotype of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, an American flag, tents and soldiers can be seen in the background.
Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. Montauk Point, Rough Riders, Col. Roosevelt. 1898. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Rough Riders

This set of photos by professional photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston focuses on Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Although taken after the men returned to the United States and were held in quarantine at Montauk Point, NY, these photos include clear group shots of the various companies and the officers. Roosevelt appears in several of the photos.