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Special optical devices. (Final Report No. 16.5-126.). Office of Scientific Research and Development, National Defense Research Committee, Division 16-Optics and Camouflage, 1945.

Opening Access to the Office of Scientific Research and Development

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The Second World War, while in many ways a desperate and tragic time, was also a time of immense focus on research and development worldwide. Researchers made new advances, not just in technologies related to weaponry, but in fields such as chemistry, metallurgy, optics, physics, and many others, transforming warfare in the process. In the United States, this massive research effort was coordinated by one office — the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD).

The Library’s Technical Reports Section has long held a collection of the OSRD’s declassified technical laboratory and field reports, drawings, memos, medical research results, and more. The materials are in print, with the “most important” research reports found in the hardcopy collection also having been preserved on microfilm.

Diagram of a B-29 with notations regarding harmonization of the guns
The harmonization of aircraft remote fire control system. (Report No. 16.1-93.). Office of Scientific Research and Development, National Defense Research Committee, Division 16-Optics and Camouflage, 1945

In recent years the Technical Reports Section has had the microfilm copies of these reports digitized and placed in the Library’s Stacks system, where they can be viewed from dedicated terminals in the Library’s Reading Rooms. Now some of them have joined our Digital Collections, as a new digital collection, becoming freely accessible online from anywhere!


Check out the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) Reports Digital Collection!


The OSRD administered their work through 25 divisions, panels and committees that were subject based, such as Chemistry, Optics, Physics, Radar, and Transportation. Because of the number and size of the collections under each of the groups, we will be migrating them into the new digital collection one or two at a time.

We are starting with material from two of the OSRD’s many administrative divisions, Division 12: Transportation and Division 16: Optics & Camouflage. Information on topics such as amphibious vehicle studies, DUKW design, bridge, ponton and ferry designs and much more, can be found in reports in Division 12 (Transportation). The Optics/ Camouflage (Division 16) collection includes reports on topics such as aerial photography, camouflage applications, periscopes and other optical instruments.

As more OSRD content is migrated from Stacks, it will be added to the OSRD Reports Digital Collection. Watch the the collection for future updates!

The Divisions, Panels and Committees of the Office of Scientific Research and Development

  • Division 1 – Ballistic Research
  • Division 2 – Effects of Impact and Explosion
  • Division 3 – Rocket Ordnance
  • Division 4 – Ordnance Accessories
  • Division 5 – New Missiles
  • Division 6 – Sub-surface Warfare
  • Division 7 – Fire Control
  • Division 8 – Explosives
  • Division 9 – Chemistry
  • Division 10 – Absorbents and Aerosols
  • Division 11 – Chemical Engineering
  • Division 12 – Transportation
  • Division 13 – Electrical Communication
  • Division 14 – Radar
  • Division 15 – Radio Coordination
  • Division 16 – Optics and Camouflage
  • Division 17 – Physics
  • Division 18 – War Metallurgy
  • Division 19 – Miscellaneous
  • Applied Mathematics Panel (AMP)
  • Applied Psychology Panel (APP)
  • Committee on Propagation
  • Vacuum Tube Development Committee
  • Tropical Deterioration Administrative Committee
  • Committee on Medical Research
    • Division 1 – Medicine
    • Division 2 – Surgery
    • Division 3 – Aviation Medicine
    • Division 4 – Physiology
    • Division 5 – Chemistry
    • Division 6 – Malaria

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Comments (2)

  1. Hi, I was excited when I saw that they started digitizing the OSRD files, I had been waiting for this for many years.
    I would like to know, if it’s not inconvenient, if all OSRD files are declassified (unlimited access).
    I can’t wait for the digitalization of division 9 and 11.

    • Hi Fernando, Thank you for taking the time to comment about the OSRD digital collection. We appreciate it. We are taking a phased approach to this developing this digital collection and will be recommending another batch of material to migrate to the loc.gov page. Should you be in in the D.C. area we have the original paper reports as well as a selection of digitized reports on dedicated terminals in the Library’s research center that you can view firsthand. Let us know if you plan on visiting us https://ask.loc.gov/science

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