Military Records

Logbooks of the US Navy at the National Archives

Introduction

The USS Constitution.

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

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 Log Books

Locations of these logbooks are divided by time period.

Pre-1940 Logbooks

  • Logbooks documenting the operations of US Navy vessels up to and including 1940 are maintained by the National Archives in Washington, DC

    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.

Post-1941 Logbooks

Military Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

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