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Bureau of Aeronautics Photograph Collection, Adak, 1944-1945

Identifier: PCA 545

Scope and Contents

The images in this collection were taken largely on and around Adak Island, Alaska, in 1944 and 1945. Over a third of the photographs are aerial views. A majority of the prints are numbered, dated, and stamped with the following notification: “Official photograph, not to be used for publication, by order of Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Unit: U.S. Naval Air Station, Adak, Alaska.” During the Aleutian Campaign, these photographs would have conveyed sensitive information about the military operation on Adak Island.


  • 1944-1945

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Request for permission to publish or reproduce material from the collection should be discussed with the Librarian.


In August of 1942, U. S. forces established an air base on Adak Island, following the Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor in June of that year. After attacking Dutch Harbor, the Japanese landed occupying troops on the westerly islands in the Aleutian Chain, notably Kiska and Attu, and the U.S. needed a base for bombing raids. Adak served in that capacity, as headquarters and support base for what came to be called the Aleutian Campaign. By 1943, there were as many as 90,000 men stationed on Adak, and their living conditions were Spartan. Gusting winds on the treeless island blew away gear, tents, and even planes; and winter temperatures were freezing cold. To occupy their free time, men played poker and other card games. There were also visits to Adak by USO (United Service Organizations) troupes that performed shows at the Naval Air Station Theater.

Cleta Riggins commented on her efforts to preserve these photographs of the people and surroundings of Adak, “Lots of history here and quite interesting. This was a labor of love, and I enjoyed doing it.”


138 items : 97 black and white photograhs ; 40 sleeves of newspaper and magazine articles ; small spiral notebook of clippings

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Cleta Riggins donated this collection of photographs and news clippings, which was given to her by Al King of Florida while at the October 2009 Bird-in-Hand reunion of Aleutian Islands’ veterans in Pennsylvania.

Existence and Location of Copies

Photographs are digitized and available for viewing via Alaska's Digital Archives.

Processing Information

Cleta Riggins housed the 97 photographs in archival sleeves. From one spiral notebook, into which newspaper and magazine articles had been pasted, she photocopied individual items for preservation; if she was not able to copy the entire picture, she put the original into a sleeve. The other small spiral notebook was housed as it was received, with news articles pasted onto the pages. Mrs. Riggins also transcribed data from the verso of photographs, typing notes on strips of paper to accompany the images.

Finding aid for the Bureau of Aeronautics Photograph Collection, Adak, 1944-1945
In Progress
Processed by: Damon Steubner ; Revised by: Gayle Goedde January, 2011 ; ArchivesSpace finding aid by: Sandy Johnston
2019 May
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Repository Details

Part of the Alaska State Library - Historical Collections Finding Aids Repository

PO Box 110571
Juneau AK 99811-0571 US
907-465-2151 (Fax)