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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign blog post

Featured Item in the Collection: Aerial Stereograms


What is the item?

Long before VR headsets hit the tech market, analog stereograms allowed users to view far off places in 3D. The Aerial Stereogram collection at the University of Illinois Map Library contains digitized photos designed to help students interpret aerial photography. Each stereogram is a set of photos taken from slightly different angles that, when viewed through a stereoscope, appear 3D to the viewer. The aerial photos in the stereogram collection were taken between 1936 and 1970 and show natural landforms as well as man-made features. The collection primarily consists of U.S. government photography. Most of the photos are of the United States, although the collection includes a few taken from Canada, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, and Japan. The collection also includes a digitized catalog with a description of each photo as well as indexes by location, subject, and date.


What BTAA Library submitted the item?

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Caption: Holmes stereoscope viewing device


Interesting Tidbits

  • The collection includes 290 stereograms.
  • Search by keyword or filter the collection by country, state, county, date, and subject.
  • Most stereograms are stereopairs with two images side by side, but some are stereotriplets constructed from three photographs.
  • The majority of the images in the collection are black and white, but some are infrared.
  • Instructors can download and print the images for classroom use.
  • The University of Illinois Map Library also has a comprehensive collection of aerial photographs of every Illinois county. Many are available online and others can be requested using the scanned air photo indexes.

Caption: Stereopair of Wall Street, New York (1954)


Caption: Stereotriplet of Mt. Ranier, Washington (1955)


Caption: Illinois Field in Champaign County, infrared stereogram (1969)


Where can I find out more?