Air University Catalog
The Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), collocated with the Air University Library, is the repository for Air Force historical documents. The agency's collection, begun in Washington, D.C., during World War II, moved to Maxwell in 1949 to support Air University. The Air Force Historical Research Agency is a field operating agency under the policy guidance of the Air Force historian at Headquarters USAF.
AFHRA's current holdings exceed 90 million pages and represent the world's largest and most valuable organized collection of historical documents on US military aviation. Materials cover subjects ranging from the use of balloons in the Civil War through Air Force activities in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and the air war over Serbia. About three-fourths of the documents are US Air Force unit histories. The entire collection is open to the public except for classified or otherwise restricted documents (approximately 25 percent of the holdings). The agency's finding aids include a computerized database and bibliographies for identifying and locating individual documents on specific topics of interest to the researcher.
Special collections, some dating back to the early 1900s, complement the unit histories. Among the collections are historical monographs and studies; more than 2,000 oral history interviews; end-of-tour reports of major overseas commanders; course materials of the Air Corps Tactical School from the 1930s; and working papers of key Army Air Forces staff offices, the British Air Ministry, and the Luftwaffe during World War II. Extensive Gulf War documentation--approximately 2,000,000 pages--and an electronic database--nearly 85 gigabytes--on the air war over Serbia have recently been added to the agency's holdings.
These holdings include chronologies, working papers, message traffic, and oral history transcripts, as well as unit histories and contingency historical reports for the Gulf War period. Collections of the personal papers of more than 500 key Air Force civilian and military officials--including Secretaries of the Air Force John L. McLucas, Robert C. Seamans Jr., and Eugene M. Zuckert, as well as Generals George S. Brown, George C. Kenney, Curtis E. LeMay, John D. Ryan, and Thomas D. White--are available to researchers.
In addition to being the Air Force's primary archive for historical documents, the Historical Research Agency performs research and other historical services. The agency's historical collection is readily available to AU students, faculty, and staff. Agency staff members provide research and advisory services to Air University students to assist them in preparing papers and theses. Beyond its support to AU, the agency's staff answers requests for historical information from Congress, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Air Staff, major commands, and the general public. Other key functions include publishing historical reference works, conducting the Air Force's oral history program, maintaining records showing the status of Air Force organizations and aircraft. As the Air Force authority on unit lineage and honors, the agency provides research assistance on heraldic emblems, prepares lineage and honors histories for Air Force units, and verifies the lineage and honors of Air Force units.
The agency conducts annual oral history and archival training courses for professional staff members of the Air Force History and Museums program. The agency deploys contingency historical information preservation (CHIP) teams during war and other contingencies to capture and archive documentation of Air Force activities.