Military Records

Logbooks of the US Navy at the National Archives

Please Note:  On August 22, 2019, the VA began scanning more than 20 million images from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs so that they can be made available online. While the scanning project is underway, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from 1956 to 1978 will be closed to researchers.  We're sorry for the inconvenience.  Learn more

Introduction

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.

Our Holdings

View the list of logbooks that are online in the National Archives Catalog:

Through 1940

1941 and later

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

refer to caption

 

The USS Constitution.

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 archives1reference@nara.gov or by mail to:

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

Post-1941 Logbooks

The National Archives at College Park maintains:

For information regarding records located at Archives II, please ask your questions on HistoryHub, or email us at archives2reference@nara.gov, or write to:

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

 

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