Logbooks of the US Navy at the National Archives
Please Note: Our U.S. Navy Deck Log series and U.S. Coast Guard Deck Log series are partially closed. The National Archives recently partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to digitize the Vietnam-era log books in support of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. While the VA completed scanning, the National Archives continues to process the images from the VA in batches. We are working expeditiously to make the millions of resulting digital images available in our National Archives Catalog. Learn more
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.
Dates of Logbooks
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.
View the list of logbooks that are online in the National Archives Catalog:
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. View list by
- 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)
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.
Location of Logbooks
Locations of these logbooks are divided by time period.
1940 and Earlier Logbooks
The National Archives in Washington, DC, maintains:
Inquiries regarding the records at the National Archives in Washington, DC, may be directed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Archives 1 Reference Branch
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001
The National Archives at College Park maintains:
- Logs for year 1941 and later
- Logs of the Military Sea Transportation Service and Military Sealift Command.
Archives II Reference Section
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740
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