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The United States Naval Photographic Science Laboratory (NPSL) was opened in the midst of the Second World War, on 24 February 1943, at the Anacostia Naval Air Station, Washington, D. C.. It was established under the military command of the Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics with the mission of centralizing the production and preservation of all naval related photography operations.


During its four years of operation, the NPSL provided photographic services to the Navy, including the conducting of research to develop new photographic equipment and techniques in the areas of motion picture production, still photography, aerial photography, graphic arts and photolithography. It was responsible for providing secret and confidential services at the Anacostia facilities for printing and developing films in quantity and for the training of motion picture camera operators. It was the Navy's sole wartime unit for the production of training films, and ultimately expanded its operations to provide production services for any military or governmental activity during the last two years of the war. The NPSL also served as a storehouse for copies of motion pictures and still photographs sent to the laboratory from war-time fleet and air base operations. In 1947, while maintaining its operations base at Anacostia, the NPSL was renamed the United States Naval Photographic Center (NPC).


  • National Archives Catalog
  • R. O. Strock and E. A. Dickinson, "Western Electric Recording System—U. S. Naval Photographic Science Laboratory," in Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 379-404, Dec. 1944.
  • H. R. Clifford, "United States Naval Photographic Science Laboratories," in Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 405-413, Dec. 1944.
  • Warren, Mame. "Focal Point of the Fleet: U.S. Navy Photographic Activities in World War II." The Journal of Military History, vol. 69 no. 4, 2005, p. 1045-1079. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/jmh.2005.0268

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