Military Records

Logs of the US Revenue Cutter Service and US Coast Guard

The US Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS), the nation's oldest continuous armed maritime service, merged with the US Life-Saving Service (USLSS) in 1915 to form today's US Coast Guard (USCG). The logs of the bulk of our holdings begin in 1833 and span through the 1980s. Our earliest exception is the logbook of USRC MASSACHUSETTS 1791-95.

USRCS and USCG logs consist of chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Revenue Cutter or Coast Guard vessels or units fulfilling the multiple missions of this military service, including enforcing the collection of revenue customs, smuggling and slave trade interdiction, search and rescue operations, and environmental and shipping law enforcement. Individual logs are arranged chronologically by date.

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 summaries of disciplinary hearings, sick lists, occasional reports of injuries, use of daily rations, and ship inventories. The level of detail varies widely between logbooks dependent on when they were created.

Logbooks of USCG vessels and stations are located in many series within Record Group 26, Records of the US Coast Guard, in several formats (including logbooks, weekly and monthly transcripts, journals, etc) and multiple NARA facilities. Most USCG logs are located in our historic National Archives Building (Archives I) in Washington DC in the following series. For a list of holdings in each series, click on the link:

US Revenue Cutter and Coast Guard Logs 1819-1941
Entry (NC-31) 159A, National Archives Identifier 585454
List forthcoming
Includes logs for German Vessel SSS HORST WESSEL, before it became USCGC EAGLE in 1946.)

Coast Guard Station Logs 1915-41
Entry (NC-31) 296A - L, National Archives Identifier 559810

Logs of Journals Related to Miscellaneous Ships and Stations 1886 - 1947
Entry (UD) 31, National Archives Identifier 478388

Engineers Logbooks -- Steam Logs ca. 1841 - 70
Entry (NC-31) 159B, National Archives Identifier 2165750

Medical Logs, 1899 - 1934
Entry (NC-31) 159C, National Archives Identifier 2165752

Telegraph/Radio Logs, 1910-16
Entry (NC-31) 159 J, National Archives Identifier 2165753

Journal of Floating Lights, 1841-53 Ocracoke, NC
Entry (NC-31) 159 K, National Archives Identifier 2165754 Acc
Series is comprised of one box, and holds records for 1841-1853.

US Coast Guard Log Books 1942-47
Entries (NC-31) 159 D-I, National Archives Identifier 587169
Series are arranged by year, and thereunder by type of vessel/station:

Logbook of Revenue Cutter MASSACHUSETTS 1791-1795
Entry (NC-31) 159 L, National Archives Identifier 6934737
Images forthcoming

Logs of USCG Ships and Shore Installations, 1948-1972
Entries (A-1) 330A - Z, National Archives Identifier 559642
List forthcoming

Buoy Tender Logs 1873-1941
Entry (NC-31) 328
List forthcoming

Caribbean Area Station Logbooks 1954-74
Entry (A1) 296A, National Archives Identifier 6882668

Coast Guard logs from 1972 to the 1980s are located in our Regional Archives depending on the vessel's home port and location of station. Logs beyond the time span of NARA holdings remain in the legal custody of the Coast Guard.

In addition to these series, logs of US Coast Guard (and Revenue Cutter Service) vessels may sometimes be found in the holdings of the US Navy, especially in times of war, or when the President exerted the office's authority to place the USCG or USRCS vessels under the direction of the US Navy, (e.g. World War I, and World War II). Pre-World War II logs for the US Navy are located at the National Archives Building, in downtown Washington DC (Archives I), and World War II and later US Navy logs are located in College Park, Maryland. (Learn more about Navy logs within our holdings.)

The US Lighthouse Service became part of the US Coast Guard in 1939, and logbooks dated after 1940 are located with Logs of US Coast Guard Logs and Stations in entries (NC-31) 159 D-I (National Archives Identifier 587169) and (A-1) 330A - Z (National Archives Identifier 559642). (Learn more about Lighthouse logs.) Please note some lighthouse logs may also be found at the National Archives in Washington, DC, (Archives I) in the Logbooks of the US Navy for the period of US involvement in World War I (1917-19). The US Coast Guard and all predecessor agencies were part of the Department of Treasury until 1967, when USCG was transferred to the Department of Transportation. In 2003, the US Coast Guard became part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Inquiries regarding the records at the National Archives building in Washington, DC may be directed to archives1reference@nara.gov, 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 archives2reference@nara.gov, or write to:

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

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