Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Aerial Photograph Collection


The MGS Aerial Photograph Collection currently comprises ~ 23,800 photographs, photographic enlargements, and photo-mosaic index maps spanning the 1930s – 1990s. The collection includes the follow ten components:

Aerial photograph:1952 – Ocean City Inlet, Worcester County, MD
Aerial photograph
1952 – Ocean City Inlet, Worcester County, MD
  1. County-based, black-and-white aerial photographs (MD; 1930s-1990s)*
  2. Black-and-white photographic enlargements of Fenwick and Assateague Islands (MD; 1950s-1960s)
  3. Black-and-white photographic enlargements of the Rockville-Laurel area of Montgomery County (MD; 1960s-1970s)
  4. Black-and-white aerial photograph index maps (MD; 1930s, 1950s-1980s)**
  5. Quadrangle-based, black-and-white aerial photographs (MD; 1930s-1990s)
  6. High-altitude, black-and-white aerial photographs (MD, PA, VA, WV; 1970s-1980s)
  7. High altitude, infrared aerial photographs (MD, VA; 1970s)
  8. Quadrangle-based, infrared aerial photographs (MD; 1980s)
  9. Black-and-white, Washington, DC and vicinity aerial photographs (Washington, DC, MD, VA; 1930s-1950s)
  10. Black-and-white, USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) well-related aerial photographs (MD; 1980s)

*Component #1 (“County Collection”) is by far the largest component of this collection, comprising over ~16,000 aerial photographs. Photographs in this collection appear on the photo-mosaic indexes of Component #4.

**Component #4 contains photo-mosaic index maps (by county) that correlate to the individual photographs in Components #1 and #2. As such, it is relatively easy to search the index maps for an area of interest, and determine which individual photographs from Components #1 or #2 cover that particular area. PLEASE NOTE: MGS never possessed all the individual photographs that are shown on the county photo-mosaics; therefore, the collection of photographs in Component #1, though large, is only a portion of the many photographs that appear on the county photo-mosaic index maps (Component #4).


MGS’s ultimate objective is to make the digital scans of the aerial photographs available online and to the public. This is a daunting task, due to the sheer number of photographs and the server infrastructure needed to do so.

Thankfully, several of MGS’s Data Preservation Advisory Panel (DPAP) partners – Maryland State Archives (MSA) and the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Eisenhower Library – have not only helped scan collection components, but have posted many of these series online for public access via their websites.

Here is a list of the items that are currently available online via JHU’s JScholarship or MSA’s Guide to Government Records websites:

The Johns Hopkins University - JScholarship Website

Maryland State Archives – Guide to Government Records Website

MSA is currently working to upload scans of additional individual county-based photographs to their Guide to Government Records website: To determine availability of scans, please do the following:

  • Go to, click on “View all series for MARYLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY” at the top of the page
  • Scroll down (past the index maps) and click on the link for the desired county e.g. “DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, MARYLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (Aerial Photographs, Anne Arundel) S1964, 1938, 1952, 1963, 1970, 1977, 1979 [Mix]”
  • Scroll down and click on the “Details” folder to the left of the desired Flight Series number e.g. “Flight Series AHR-4”
  • Click on “Links” for the desired frame (e.g. AHR-4-15) to see availability. (Many scans available now only via MSA search room computers)
  • If available online, there will be a link to view the image

Stay tuned for additional details as more digital scans become available! You may also request digital images from Maryland Geological Survey (see below).


Digital Scans

To request digital scans of our county-based aerial photographs (Component #1), please first view the Aerial Photo-Mosaic Index Maps to determine the flight/frame numbers in your area of interest. Digital scans of all of the index maps are available via MSA’s Guide to Government Records website here: Click on “View all series for MARYLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY” at the top of the page and scroll down to find the desired county index.

Then, contact the MGS staff listed below to request digital scans of the individual frames. Typically, MGS shares digital files via the cloud-based Google Drive platform. Note that the Aerial Photograph Collection does not contain all of the individual frames that comprise the index maps; as such, we may not be able to fulfill your entire request.

Paper Photographs

As of September 2019, nearly all paper photographs in the aerial photography collection were transferred to the MSA facility in Windsor Mill, MD for permanent storage. Therefore, paper prints are not available to be viewed at the MGS library. If there is a need to view the paper photographs, MGS can help advise patrons regarding the archival location of their photos of interest, however, retrieval of these photographs and/or request for copies would occur via MSA. Please see the MSA Guide to Government Records:


MGS’s scanning efforts have been funded by successive grants awarded in 2011-2019 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP). Please visit our “Data Preservation Efforts” webpage for more information about the NGGDPP grants and the ongoing preservation efforts at MGS: Maryland Geological Survey – Data Preservation Efforts

MGS wishes to thank the NGGDPP, as well as members of our Data Preservation Advisory Panel, for fostering data preservation efforts at the Survey. MGS is extremely grateful to MSA and JHU for their assistance in scanning multiple maps, aerial photographs, and publications and making many of these items available online via their websites.

Contact Information

Mr. Dale Shelton – 410-554-5505,
Ms. Heather Quinn – 410-554-5522,