Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks

1784-1963 (Bulk 1842-1942)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 71.2 GENERAL RECORDS 1784-1963 4,918 lin. ft. and 735 rolls of microfilm
  • 71.2.1 General correspondence
  • 71.2.2 Records relating to personnel
  • 71.2.3 Fiscal records
  • 71.2.4 Records relating to the design and construction of shore establishment facilities
  • 71.2.5 Miscellaneous records
  • 71.3 RECORDS OF DIVISIONS AND DEPARTMENTS 1789-1958 835 lin. ft. and 6 rolls of microfilm
  • 71.3.1 Records of the Construction Department
  • 71.3.2 Records of the War Plans Division
  • 71.3.3 Records of the Advance Base Division
  • 71.3.4 Records of the Progress Division
  • 71.3.5 Records of the Real Estate Division
  • 71.3.6 Records of the Camouflage Division
  • 71.4 RECORDS OF BOARDS 1852-1916 3 lin. ft.
  • 71.6 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL) 1876-1955 203,895 images


Established: In the Department of the Navy by an act of July 5, 1862 (12 Stat. 510).

Predecessor Agencies:

In the War Department:

  • Office of the Secretary of War (1789-98)
In the Department of the Navy:
  • Office of the Secretary of the Navy (1798-1815)
  • Board of Naval Commissioners (1815-42)
  • Bureau of Naval Yards and Docks (1842-62)
Transfers: With the Department of the Navy to the National Military Establishment (NME), pursuant to the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 500), July 26, 1947; to Department of Defense (DOD, formerly NME) by the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579), August 10, 1949.

Functions: Designed, constructed, and maintained all naval facilities and utilities. Obtained real estate for navy use.

Abolished: Effective May 1, 1966, by DOD reorganization order, March 9, 1966.

Successor Agencies: Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

Finding Aids: Richard G. Wood, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, PI 10 (1948); Harry Schwartz, comp., "Supplement to Preliminary Inventory No. 10, Records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks," NM 46 (1965); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Yards and Docks in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Board of Naval Commissioners in RG 45, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library. Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, RG 181.

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History: Before the Department of the Navy was established by act of April 30, 1798 (1 Stat. 553), responsibility for naval affairs, including navy yards, drydocks, and other facilities, was vested in the War Department, established by act of August 7, 1789 (1 Stat. 49). Logistical functions handled by the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, 1798-1815. Board of Naval Commissioners established by an act of February 7, 1815 (3 Stat. 202), to provide administrative assistance to the Secretary of the Navy, including responsibility for logistical aspects of design, construction, and management of naval facilities. Board of Naval Commissioners abolished by act of August 31, 1842 (5 Stat. 579), and its functions distributed among five bureaus, including the Bureau of Naval Yards and Docks, renamed the Bureau of Yards and Docks, 1862. SEE 71.1.

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71.2.1 General correspondence

Textual Records: Letters sent, 1842-1911, with press copies, 1842-85. Letters received, 1842-85. Registers of correspondence, 1842-99. General correspondence, 1886-1942 (1,623 ft.), with indexes, 1886-1925, and history cards, 1899-1925. General correspondence relating to procurement, 1899-1911, and to shore establishments, 1916-25. Confidential correspondence, 1918-41. Security-classified correspondence, 1940-57 and 1958-61. Microfilm copies of general correspondence, 1925-42 (699 rolls), and of confidential correspondence, 1918-41 (36 rolls).

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71.2.2 Records relating to personnel

Textual Records: Monthly reports of officers, 1842-85. Muster rolls of pensioners and beneficiaries at the Naval Asylum (the U.S. Naval Home after 1889), 1850-97 (in Philadelphia). Monthly reports of officers and employees at the Naval Asylum, 1869-85 (in Philadelphia). Returns of apprentices, 1837-42, 1853-81. Shore establishment payrolls, 1844-99.

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71.2.3 Fiscal records

Textual Records: Annual reports of estimates and expenditures, 1836-37, 1842-1911. Annual estimates for public works projects, 1921-40. Reports of work done to improve yards, 1842-98. Semimonthly abstracts of work done, 1843-67. Navy agents' vouchers and exhibits, 1842-98. Store returns, 1842, 1844-69. Naval Asylum subsistence reports, 1850-76, and clothing and tobacco reports, 1850-73 (in Philadelphia). General ledgers, 1866-89, and construction ledgers, 1832-72, for major yards. Construction progress reports and related financial statements of contractors, Pacific Naval Bases, Philippine Islands, June-November 1941. Contracts, 1842-96 and 1896-1946 (1,291 ft.). Contract correspondence, 1911-42 (885 ft.), and index, 1925-42. Correspondence about specifications, 1925-42.

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 71.2.4 Records relating to the design and construction of shore
establishment facilities

Textual Records: News memorandums on selected projects, 1926-40. Records of the installation of foundation caissons for storehouse (Building No. 77), New York Navy Yard, 1940-41 (1 roll of microfilm).

Microfilm Publications: T1176.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (103,127 items and 1,248 rolls of microfilm): Plans, drawings, blueprints, and tracings ("dash" files) of U.S. Navy shore facilities and equipment in the United States and abroad, 1824- 1963 (102,618 items); microfilm copies of shore facilities, 1876-1941 (1,224 rolls); and microfilm index (22 rolls). Plans of naval air stations in the United States and abroad, 1940-42 (1 roll of microfilm). New York Navy Yard foundation ("caisson") plans for Building No. 77, 1940- 41 (1 roll of microfilm). Drawings and plans of buildings and installations, 1898-1930 (500 items). Plans for an armored steam corvette, 1861 (5 items). Plans for a floating drydock, 1898 (4 items). SEE ALSO 71.5.

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 71.2.5 Miscellaneous records

Textual Records: Cash books of private merchants, 1784-85, 1803- 11, 1817-20. Invoice books, 1815-18, 1823-24. Journals of daily transactions at the Boston Navy Yard, 1833-50 (in Boston); Cape May Air Station, 1918-19 (in New York); Havana Naval Station, 1901-3; Memphis Navy Yard, 1848-55 (in Atlanta); Naval Asylum, 1851-72 (in Philadelphia); New London Experiment Station, 1919 (in Boston); New London Submarine Base, 1920-21 (in Boston); New York Navy Yard, 1834- 63 (in New York); Norfolk Navy Yard, 1820-58 (in Philadelphia); Olangapo Navy Yard (Philippine Islands), 1908-10; Pensacola Air Station, 1916-18 (in Atlanta); Pensacola Navy Yard, 1836 (in Philadelphia); Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1836; Portsmouth Navy Yard, 1836-50 (in Boston); and Washington Navy Yard, 1836-42. Boston ropewalk reports, 1842-50. Papers relating to dry docks and marine railways, 1846-47. Record of the organization of U.S.S. Wabash, 1858-59. Reports and letters of the inspector of naval reserve timber lands in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, 1869-72. Private files of two Navy Department clerks, 1872-93. Manuscript history (1811-77) of the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia, 1877-78 (in Philadelphia). Report of a Bureau of Yards and Docks mission to Japan to assess atomic bomb damage, 1945. Record set of publications (directives), 1945-63.

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 71.3.1 Records of the Construction Department

Textual Records: Construction Battalion (Seabee) publicity files, 1942-43. General correspondence, Construction Battalion Training Center, Camp Pendleton, CA, 1942-44. Reference file of Commander John R. Perry concerning the construction battalions and the training of Seabee recruits, 1942 (2 rolls of microfilm). Records relating to naval air station construction at Seattle, WA (in Seattle); Tongue Point, OR (in Seattle); San Diego, CA (in Los Angeles); and San Pedro, CA, 1925-42 (in Los Angeles).

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 71.3.2 Records of the War Plans Division

Architectural and Engineering Plans (6 rolls of microfilm): Plans for standard housing; wood, tropical, and steel frame buildings; and pontoon gear, 1940-42. SEE ALSO 71.5.

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 71.3.3 Records of the Advance Base Division

Textual Records: Lists of equipment to be supplied to advanced bases, 1942 (1 roll of microfilm).

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 71.3.4 Records of the Progress Division

Textual Records: Administrative file, 1942 (3 rolls of microfilm).

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 71.3.5 Records of the Real Estate Division

Textual Records: Land acquisition case files, 1789-1958 (830 ft.).

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 71.3.6 Records of the Camouflage Division

Textual Records: Correspondence and memorandums relating to World War II camouflage techniques, 1943-45.

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Textual Records: Records of Naval Site Boards, 1852, 1862, 1878, 1888-89. Records of the Board of Navy Yard Plans, 1897-1916. Barracks Board papers, 1903.

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SEE Architectural and Engineering Plans UNDER 71.2.4 and 71.3.2.


Photographs (6,289 images): Construction of and equipment for floating drydocks, lighters, and barges, and for the construction of bridges, docks, and breakwaters, some in albums, 1891-1944 (CDD, CD, BW; 3,032 images). Blueprints of powerplant facilities at navy yards, 1909-15 (PPD, 100 images). Navy yards at Mare Island, CA, and New York, NY; drydocks in Charleston, SC; shipways at Newport News, VA; and buildings at Balboa, CZ, 1876- 1935 (SY, NYA; 400 images). Hoisting cranes at AB Company, Gary, IN, 1919 (MA, 6 images). Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA, in album, 1918 (UI, 70 images). Panoramas of training facilities at Pelham Bay, NY, and Parris Island, SC, and of Yeomen-F, 1917-19 (PA, 7 images). Planning activities, testing materials, and settling damage claims, 1904-44 (TDM, 1,040 images). Explosion damage at an ammunition dump, Lake Denmark, NY, 1926 (LD, 162 images). Facilities improvements, Naval Fuel Depot, Pearl Harbor, HI, 1933-34 (PH, 100 images). Work performed at naval bases by the Public Works Administration and the Work Projects Administration, 1935-43 (CF, 144 images). Construction Battalion (Seabee) personnel, activities, and training, 1943-44 (SB, SBE; 773 images). Construction work at the James River, VA, shipyard, 1942 (JRS, 39 images). Construction of U.S. Naval Training Station, Sampson, NY, ca. 1942-43 (SA, 416 images).

Photographic Prints (25,000 images): Naval personnel, installations, and activities, 1944-55 (CP).

Photographs and Lantern Slides (172,606 images): Construction progress at naval shore establishments in the United States, its possessions, and abroad, including navy yards, air stations, submarine bases, coaling stations, and training stations, 1876- 1944 (CA, CB, CC, CCF, CR, BH, NS, GS, MB, NB).

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

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