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United States Army Field Manuals: A Resource Guide and Inventory

This inventory focuses on War Department and Department of the Army Field Manuals that were primarily received into the Library of Congress general collections from the 1940s to the 1970s, along with links to digitized versions of selected materials.


Treat 'em rough - Join the tanks United States Tank Corps."
August William Hutaf artist. Treat 'em rough - Join the tanks United States Tank Corps. 1917. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

War Department, and later, U.S. Army, Field Manuals or FMs “constitute the primary means of promulgating the basic doctrines of military training and operations. They contain training instructions relative to tactics and technique.” (From the 1946 List and Index of War Department Publications). The Library's Army Field Manual (FM) collection can be used to trace the evolution of the Army’s doctrine, organizational structure, equipment, uniforms, and weapons and is of interest in terms of the care, maintenance and preservation of military artifacts.

U.S. military manuals are official publications intended to be instructive and informative. Historically, they were produced by all the branches of service, and they continue to be produced today. The War Department, which became the Department of the Army in 1947, issued three major classes of publications: 1) Administrative publications, 2) Doctrinal, Training and Organizational publications, and 3) Technical and Equipment publications. Administrative publications included Army Regulations, Special Regulations, Bulletins, Circulars, General and Special Orders, and Pamphlets; Doctrinal, Training and Organizational publications included Field Manuals, Army Training and Evaluation Programs, Training Circulars, Tables of Organization and Equipment, and Tables of Allowances; and Technical and Equipment publications included Technical Manuals, Technical Bulletins, Supply Manuals, etc. Other military departments, such as the Department of the Navy produced similar materials, though often under different names. The Library of Congress does not have a complete set of any of these publications, but its holdings of War Department and U.S. Army Field Manuals, from the 1940s up to the early 1970s, are extensive and significant. In the 1970s, the Library of Congress ceased receiving this material.

For those seeking information about the Library's Army Technical Manual (TM) collection, please consult the Science Reference Service's U.S. Army Technical Manual (TM) Resource Guide and Inventory.

Scope of this Guide

Field Manuals were generally added to the collection under the single Library of Congress classification, U408.3 .A13, with the series and individual manual number of each title identifying the volume. Because the majority of the Library's U.S. Army Field Manuals do not have individual bibliographic records, it has been difficult in the past for researchers interested in locating these titles to identify all that the Library of Congress has available. This guide and inventory reveals the full depth and breadth of the Field Manuals in the general collections.

A little over 300 U.S. army manual titles were fully cataloged under the single Library of Congress classification U408.3.A13.

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Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Science Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of science, medicine and engineering. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of science and engineering  assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of science, medicine, and engineering materials.