U.S. Navy Muster Rolls, 1798–1939
U.S. Navy muster rolls are quarterly lists of enlisted naval personnel who were formally attached to a naval vessel or station. Because the Navy did not create and maintain official service records for enlisted men until 1885, muster rolls are among the primary records documenting enlisted naval personnel during the nineteenth century.
The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses Navy muster rolls from approximately 1798 through June 1939. More recent Navy muster rolls are housed at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives 2).
Contents of Muster Rolls
Pre-1940 Navy muster rolls may provide the following information about enlistees:
- Date and place of enlistment
- Civilian occupation
- State and/or country of birth
However, not all muster rolls include all of this information. Pre-1860 muster rolls usually only provide the sailor's name, vessel or station, and service dates.
Accessing Muster Rolls
Navy muster rolls at Archives 1 are divided between two record groups, depending on the year. To search these records, researchers need to know the name of the vessel or station where the enlistee served.
Muster Rolls, 1798–1859
Navy muster rolls from 1798 to approximately 1859 are found in two different series in Record Group 45, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library:
- Muster Rolls and Payrolls for U.S. Navy Vessels, 1798–1860 (Entry I-18 68; National Archives Identifier 1813771)
- Muster Rolls and Payrolls for Shore Establishments, 1805–1869 (Entry I-18 69; National Archives Identifier 1814571)
The records are arranged alphabetically by the name of the vessel or station and thereunder chronologically.
These records have also been reproduced as Microfilm Publication T829. This publication includes pre-1860 Navy pay rolls, which may provide the sailor's name, rank, enlistment date, and service dates.
Muster Rolls, 1860–1939
Navy muster rolls from 1860 to 1939 are found in two different series in Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel:
- Muster Rolls of Ships, 1860–1900 (Entry PI-123 132; National Archives Identifier 563603)
- This series is arranged in three chronological segments (1860–1879, 1880–1891, and 1892–1900), and thereunder alphabetically by the vessel name.
Records from the Civil War era are available in the National Archives Catalog.
- Muster Rolls of Ships and Shore Establishments, 1898–1939 (Entry PI-123 134; National Archives Identifier 572847)
- This series is arranged in two chronological segments (1898–1930 and 1931–1939), and thereunder alphabetically by the name or type of vessel or shore unit.
Finding aids are available for both series in the Archives 1 Consultation Room.
1940 and Later U.S. Navy Muster Rolls
The National Archives at College Park, MD, houses U.S. Navy muster rolls from approximately 1940 to the early 1980s.
World War II–era Navy muster rolls are available online through Ancestry.com (database title: "U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938–1949").
Select muster rolls from the post–World War II era are also available through Ancestry (database title: "U.S. Navy Muster Rolls, 1949–1971").
For more information about these records, see Know Your Records: U.S. Navy Muster Rolls and Personnel Diaries. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.