Military Records

Logbooks of the US Navy at the National Archives

The USS Constitution.

Our holdings of US Navy logbooks span from the American Revolutionary War to the late 20th century and include logs of Navy commissioned vessels, a few Navy stations, units and other commands. Our earliest Navy Log is a photostatic copy of the original log of Continental Schooner WASP with start date of March 9, 1776. Our latest holdings of logbooks are transferred to us from the Naval History and Heritage Command 30 years after the logbook is completed for the calendar year. Logbooks, also referred to as Captain's Logs or Deck Logs, consist of chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Navy ship or unit. Individual logbooks are arranged chronologically by date, with entries in each day's log arranged chronologically by the time of day.

The level of information contained in these volumes ranges from simple entries documenting daily routines to detailed meteorological and operational accounts. Information also can include documentation of disciplinary hearings, sick lists, occasional injuries, use of daily rations, etc. Information available differs widely based on when the logbook was created.

The greatest source for logs is found in our Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (formerly Navy Bureau of Navigation), Record Group 24, Entry 118 (National Archives Identifier 581208). Our Special List # 44 List of Logbooks of US Navy Ships, Stations, and Miscellaneous Units, 1801-1947, provides a comprehensive item list for this time period.(Click here for list). Some logs of vessels include both the Rough and Smooth logs. Other logs from 1776-1922 may be also found in our holdings of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Record Group 45). See the list of logbooks by vessel name, or a chronological list by date of first log entry.

Also found in our holdings of Navy Logbooks are some logs of US Revenue Cutters and US Coast Guard vessels and facilities. These military forces periodically came under Navy direction in wartime or by Presidential order, thus wartime logs of Revenue Cutters, Coast Guard vessels, lighthouses, and other units may be found with Navy logs.

Locations of these logbooks are divided by time period. The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives I) maintains logbooks documenting the operations of US Navy vessels up to and including 1940. Logs for year 1941 and later are located at our College Park, Maryland, facility - Archives II.

Our holdings also include logs of the Military Sea Transportation Service and Military Sealift Command.

Inquiries regarding the records at the National Archives building in Washington, DC may be directed to, or write to:

National Archives
Archives 1 Reference Section
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001.

For information regarding records located at Archives II, researchers may email to, or write to:

National Archives
Archives II Reference Section
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272