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Military Records

31 posts

Introduction

The records below are the main series used for documenting military service in the US Army prior to the time period just before World War I. Questions about the records listed in this blog as well as other pre-World War I Army and War Department records may be directed to the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at Archives1reference@nara.gov or posted on History Hub in the Military Records community.

 

Depending on the time period and individual circumstances, soldiers also may be documented in other types of records such as land grant files, pension files, medical files, casualty records, Military Academy records, prisoner lists, and unit records that are not listed in this blog.

 

For enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and for officers of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after June 1917, there may be an Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs are not included in this blog. For more information about these records, see About Military Service Records and Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs, DD Form 214).

 

Any surviving records of pre-Revolutionary War service in colonial militias as well as service in state militias and National Guard units that were not called up for federal service may be in state archives. State archives may have additional records documenting the service of soldiers in state volunteer units that are also documented in records at the National Archives. The nature and availability of state military service records varies greatly from state to state.

 

Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled military service records (CMSRs) did not originate during the wars they document, but were compiled by the War Department beginning in the 1890s to produce a centralized record of enlisted men and officers whose military service was performed during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the federal interest. CMSRs were created for the Continental Army and many Revolutionary War-era state units, as well as volunteer forces from the post-Revolutionary period through the Philippines Insurrection. CMSRs were not constructed for officers and enlisted personnel of the Regular Army.

 

Compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. The exact information included varies from war to war and from individual to individual. They typically provide age at enlistment, rank, unit, date mustered in and mustered out, and basic military information. They may list a person's place of birth, where they enlisted, and a basic physical description. They sometimes note when a person was sick, absent, or deserted. If a person died while in service, that will be noted. The CMSR may contain an internal jacket for so-called “personal papers” of various kinds. These may include a copy of the soldier's enlistment paper, papers relating to his capture and release as a prisoner of war, or a statement that he had no personal property with him when he died.

 

NOTE: The CMSR does not identify parents or next-of-kin, and rarely indicates battles in which a soldier fought. Family information, where it is documented, is more likely to be in pension records.

 

Revolutionary War (1775 - 1784)

See The American Revolution: Research our Records for more information.

 

Service Records: Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records (Record Group 93)


Index: Indexes to Revolutionary War Compiled Military Service Records in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records (Record Group 93)


Post-Revolutionary Period (1784-1811)

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Units During the Post-Revolutionary War Period in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Post-Revolutionary War Period in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


War of 1812 (1812-1815)

See War of 1812 Resources in NARA for more information.

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Indian Wars (ca. 1815 - 1858)

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Indian Wars in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Indian Wars in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Mexican American War (1846 - 1848)See Mexican War: Search Records Online and Other Resources for more information.
Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Mexican War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Mexican War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Civil War (1861 - 1866)

Only Union records are listed in this blog. See Civil War for more information.

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the American Civil War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94) [includes Veteran Reserve Corps and U.S. Colored Troops as well as state volunteer units]


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Civil War, 1899 - 1927 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


See Also
Carded Records Relating to Civil War Staff Officers in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Not all records have been digitized
    • National Archives Catalog - Only a single record has been digitized and is available through the Catalog.


General Orders Announcing Brevet Rank Appointments of Volunteer Officers, 1861 - 1868 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Generals' Reports of Service, 1864 - 1872 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Letters Received, 1863 - 1894 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94): This series contains letters, reports, and related papers concerning the recruiting, organization and service of organizations in the U.S. Colored Troops, their officers, and servicemen. These records are in addition to the USCT records in the Carded Records series listed above.

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Not all records have been digitized
    • National Archives Catalog - 15 documents have been digitized and are available through the Catalog.


The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners.

 

Spanish American War (1898-1898) and Philippine Insurrection (1899-1903)

See Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection for more information.

 

Spanish American War

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection

 

Service Records: Carded Records Relating to Staff Officers of Volunteers in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, 1899 - 1927 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Philippine Insurrection

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Most records have not been digitized. As of August 2020, only a single record has been digitized and made available through the National Archives Catalog. No digitized records are available from digitization partner websites.


Philippine Insurrection Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Philippine Insurrection Service Records (Puerto Rico): Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Served in the Puerto Rican Regiment of U.S. Volunteers During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Regular Army (1798 - ca. 1917)

 

Officers

 

Pre-1863: There are no consolidated service records for Regular Army officers before 1863. One may examine the various correspondence series of the Adjutant General's Office in Record Group 94 and other military records for documentation relating to these officers.

 

1863 - 1917: Letters Received, 1863 - 1917 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94) in additional to recording relating to officers of the Regular Army, these records also includes files for officers of Volunteers in the Staff Corps commissioned by the President, and officers commissioned by brevet appointment in the Regular Army and Volunteer organizations.


See also: Statements of the Foreign Service of U.S. Army Officers, 1914 - 1915

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


1789-1969: Regular Army Officers are listed in the Official Army Register which is available through Fold3 as Army Registers, 1798-1969. Some editions are available free on HathiTrust.

 

Enlisted

 

1798 - 1912: Enlistment Papers, 1798 - October 31, 1912 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online:
    • National Archives Catalog - Only 2 records have been digitized.


1798 - 1914: Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798 - 1914 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Accessing Pre-World War I Army Service Records

 

National Archives Catalog
Many of the records listed above may be viewed using the National Archives Catalog. If you require assistance locating a particular file, you may ask about it on History Hub or email RDT1. If the Catalog is not working for you, please email Catalog@nara.gov.

 

In-Person Research
All of the records listed above as well as all the microfilm publications are located at the National Archives in Washington, DC. For some records, researchers may access the original papers. For other records, researchers must use the microfilm or the digital images of the records rather than the originals.

 

Some microfilm publications are available in one or more of our regional facilities in addition to the DC facility. You may use the Microfilm Catalog to look up information about additional microfilm publications, to include a list of locations where they are available.

 

Please be advised that as of August 2020, all NARA locations remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Archives will decide when to begin reopening our facilities based on guidance from the Federal Government, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). We are working diligently on our plans for the gradual reopening of our facilities across the country.

 

Please check NARA website for the latest information before planning a trip to a NARA facility. We also recommend that you email the staff at the location you are visiting prior to planning your trip.

 

Ordering Copies of Pre-World War I Service Records
To order copies of service records (except for OMPFs) not already available in the National Archives Catalog, please fill out a NATF Form 86 for the service records and mail the completed form to the address listed on the form. For more information see Requesting Copies of Older (pre-WWI) Military Service Records. There is a reproduction fee for this service.

 

Please note that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has suspended reproduction and digitization services until further notice due to COVID-19. Orders will not be serviced until operations can resume safely. NARA has also temporarily suspended the option for placing online orders using eservices.archives.gov. Once operations resume, document reproduction requests will be filled in the order in which they were received. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

Accessing Records on Digitization Partner Websites
FamilySearch may be accessed with a free account. Ancestry and Fold3 both have options for free accounts, however most data collections on these websites are behind a paywall. The National Archives provides free access to AncestryInstitution and Fold3 at all NARA locations. As mentioned above, all NARA locations remain closed to the public due to COVID-19. Many public and university libraries also provide access to these websites to their patrons.

 

Over time, many of the digitized records currently only available on partner websites will be uploaded into the National Archives Catalog and made available to all for free.

Links for Additional Information about Pre-World War I Service Records

The bulk of the records relating to individual regiments of the U.S. Army are in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94).  Some of these major series include:


National Archives Preliminary Inventory 17: Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Adjutant General's Office by Lucille H. Pendell and Elizabeth Bethel is available on the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center website.

 

The National Archives also has 724 series related to various regiments in the Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units (Record Group 391) and 290 series in the Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands (Record Group 393).

 

Records pertaining to Confederate units are in the War Department Collection of Confederate Records (Record Group 109).  Some of the series that contain records pertaining to specific units include:


Depending on the unit, there may be additional information in various other series. Please note that because of the circumstances of the war, not all Confederate records survived the conflict and not all of those that did came into federal custody.

Preliminary Inventory 101: Preliminary Inventory of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records (Record Group 109) by Elizabeth Bethel  is available on the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center website.

 

Researchers may email the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at archives1reference@nara.gov or post inquiries here at History Hub to request more information about the various records in NARA custody relating to Civil War units.  Please be as specific as possible about which units you are researching and what type(s) of information you are seeking.

 

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners whose goal is to increase Americans' understanding of this decisive era in American history by making information about it widely accessible.

 

For both Union and Confederate volunteer units raised by states, there may be additional information in the custody of the relevant state archives and state libraries. Also, the staff of some Civil War related museums and U.S. state historical societies and museums may be able to assist you with your research.

 

Many histories have been published about various Civil War units, ranging from books written soon after the war by veterans of the units to works by recent authors. We suggest searching libraries (to include the Library of Congress) retailers, and online sites such as Google Books, the Internet Archive, and HathiTrustWorldCat and Social Networks and Archival Context can sometimes be used to locate institutions with relevant books and manuscript collections. 

 

For additional resources and research advice, please see:

In the aftermath of World War I with the rise of American global status, a colonial power in the Carribean and Pacific and a component of a European alliance with Great Britain and France, the United States Navy began to take their theories of fleet actions and developed them in practical real world exercises.  These practical exercises were known as the Fleet Problems conducted between 1923 and 1941.  The Fleet Problems were number I to XXI and there was a XXII Problem planned for January 1941, but it was cancelled.  These records were microfilmed into National Archives Publication M964: Records Relating to United States Navy Fleet Problems I to XXII, 1923-1941.

 

The records contained in this series come from three different record groups: Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 80: Records of the Department of the Navy, and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces. In Record Group 38, these series are from Division Fleet Training, Confidential Correspondence, 1927-1941 and Confidential Reports, 1917-1941. In Record Group 80, there are documents from the Secretary of the Navy’s Secret and Confidential Correspondence, 1919-1926 and the Secretary of the Navy’s Confidential Correspondence, 1927-1939. And in Record Group 313, there is the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet Confidential Correspondence, 1939-1940.

 

The Fleet components involved in the exercises were the Battle Force and Scouting Force. The Battle Force and Scouting Force were sub-divisions of the US Fleet that was reorganized in 1922. The Battle Force later was reorganized into the Pacific Fleet and the Scouting Force was reorganized into the Atlantic Fleet in 1941.

 

Each of the exercises were designed to address a specific component or scenario within the context of a “colored” war plan.  The opponents in the exercises were described as “Blue” forces, the United States, and aggressor forces “Black”, Germany, and “Orange”, Japan. The locations of the exercises do not necessarily reflect the hostile forces being tested in that there are a few Fleet Problems staged in the Caribbean simulating fleet actions around Hawaii. In some of the Fleet Problems, the Battle Force and the Scouting Force were pitted against one another, and in other cases a single force was divided into both opponents.

 

One of the more interesting aspects of the Fleet Problems is how the US Navy was preparing for the next war and how new equipment would be used like aircraft and submarines as well as new tactics like amphibious landings. Another factor that the US Navy was contending with is the possibility of a two-ocean war with a limited fleet that was constricted by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1920-1921.

 

Many naval historians look to the Fleet Problems as evidence to the axiom of “Generals are always prepared to fight the last war” or in this case “Admirals.”  The general consensus is that the Fleet Problems reinforced the notion that the next naval war would have the battleship as the centerpiece of a fleet at the exclusion of other vessels.  Other vessels like aircraft carriers and submarines were auxiliary to the fleet and would be only used in reconnaissance roles rather than a major projection of naval power.  Although, carrier-based aircraft proved to be very useful in turning the tide in a battle during the Fleet Problems. In the 1930s as a result of the Fleet Problems, the Navy elected to construct more aircraft carriers and expand naval aviation. But the true potential of aircraft carriers within a battle group had yet to be proven and would not until the Second World War.

 

On aircraft carriers, there were several tests of carrier based aircraft against naval bases such as the Panama Canal and more famously, Fleet Problem XIII in 1932 where the USS Saratoga (CV 3) successfully attacked the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, HI in a test of the base’s defenses. 

 

For submarines, their potential as a weapon continued to be misunderstood and mired in world opinion, being compared to German U-boats. and being anchored to fleet reconnaissance. The term “Fleet Submarine” comes from this period when the Navy was trying to have submarines operate with the surface fleet and not be perceived as the lone wolves of the First World War preying on commercial shipping.  But because of the dramatic shift in speed on the surface compared to a submarine’s speed underwater, it was hard for the surface fleet to interact with submarines without planning submarine positions far in advance of the fleet. Another aspect of the Fleet Problems that showed bias against submarines was the criteria during exercises where submarines attacked escorted convoys.  Detection amounted to being successfully attacked and this bred a cautious submariner in the early days of World War II.

 

There are many related records to this series at the National Archives in Washington, DC and at the National Archives in College Park. 

 

The National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1), which you can email at archives1reference@nara.gov, has custody of series in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 80: Records of the Department of the Navy and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.

 

Specifically in RG 38, there are the correspondence series of the Chief of Naval Operations, arranged by the Navy Filing Manual, that include discussions of fleet development and training as well as war planning prior to 1941.

 

In RG 80, there are three series of interest: the 1930-42 General Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, (the index is on the Catalog), the Records of the General Board, and the Records of the Joint Army-Navy Board. The General Board was an advisory board of retired Fleet Admirals, and the series pertained to innovations in new ships, new tactics, and new strategies. These series have their own filing scheme based on a topic that is different from the Navy Filing Manual. The Joint Board records reviewed war planning and the development of base defense for Army and Navy installations, both domestic and abroad.

 

In RG 313, there are series of records relating to the individual forces: Battle Force and Scouting Force, and some of their subordinate commands such as commander, submarines and commander, aircraft.

 

The National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) has custody of only a few series in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations and Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces that would relate to the Fleet Problems because the majority of the pre-World War II Navy Records are in the custody of the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference.

 

In RG 38, there is a collection of records relating to the Fleet Problems in the records of the Strategic War Plans Division in Entry A1 355. The date range of these records is from 1912 to 1946 and divided up into 12 sub-series.  In particular, Series II: Naval War College Instructional Materials, 1914-1941 and Series IX: Plans, Strategic Studies and Related Correspondence, 1939-1945 have materials related to the Fleet Problems.  In Series II, there are continuations on the fleet exercises and analysis of each of the opponents’ situations. In Series IX is a set of copies of the historical development of the war plans arranged chronologically.  

 

In RG 313, there is a series of files covering 1940 to 1942 and the transition of Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (1940), combined with Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet (February 1941), and the two commands being separated in December 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The series is the General Files and Serials of Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, 1940-1942. This series fills the gap between the CINCUS files located at the National Archives in Washington, DC and the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (renamed COMINCH) Formerly Security-Classified Correspondence, 1942-1945 at the National Archives in College Park, MD. 

 

To inquire about the availability of related records that were suggested, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, If you are interested in ordering a copy, please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request since both are required for the reproduction order form.

 

Local Identifier: 111-SC-198304, Original caption: “Bastogne, Belgium–Weary infantrymen of the 110th Regt., 28th Div., US 1st Army following the German breakthrough in that area. The enemy overran their battalion. (L-R) Pvt. Adam H. Davis and T/S Milford A. Sillars. Dec. 19, 1944”Local Identifier: 111-SC-198304, NAID: 12010146, Original caption: “Bastogne, Belgium–Weary infantrymen of the 110th Regt., 28th Div., US 1st Army following the German breakthrough in that area. The enemy overran their battalion. (L-R) Pvt. Adam H. Davis and T/S Milford A. Sillars. Dec. 19, 1944”

 

Recently, the National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures (RDSS) digitized the U.S. Army’s personality index titled 111-PX: Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files (111-SC, 111-P, 111-PC, 111-C), 1940 - 1981. The available digitized records are helpful when searching for a photograph of a specific service member from the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War. The index is organized by name and is used to locate photographic identifier numbers for photographs of specific individuals. The photographic identifier numbers then lead to a specific photograph in the U.S. Army’s photographic records.

 

While searching, it is helpful to keep in mind that formal military portraits were taken by commercial photographers and offered for sale at the time taken. Unfortunately, those photos were typically not kept as permanent records by the military. Generally, higher ranking individuals are the most frequently found in the index and oftentimes, specific individuals are not identified in the U.S. Army's photographs.

 

For more information and a detailed step-by-step guide on how to search for a personality within the series of records 111-PX: Index to Personalities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Files, see the blog post titled "How to Search Still Photographs for Army Personalities" on the NARA Special Media Branch’s blog “The Unwritten Record." If you have any questions about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS) at stillpix@nara.gov.

Selective Service System Classification & Registration Records for 1940 – 1975

 

General Information and Descriptions

 


 

All Selective Service System Classification and Registration Records: 1940 – 1975 have been consolidated from state holdings to the National Archives.  These dates cover men born 4/28/1877 – 3/29/1957. Men born between 3/29/1957 – 12/31/1959 were exempt from registering.  It is important to note that not all men who registered for the draft served in the military.

 

Registration Cards (SSS Form 101) were created to account for all men required to register for the draft.  Information found in these cards generally includes name, address, employer/educational institution, date and location of birth, and a person to contact for address updates.  For cards of men with dates of birth after 1922, additional information may include military service or the registrant’s alien registration number.

 

Classification Ledgers (SSS Form 102) chronicle the status of each man’s eligibility, exemptions, tests, entry, and final disposition from service.  The codes for these classification ledgers can be found on the Selective Service System’s website.  Supplementary information provided by registrants (medical records, school enrollment forms, or other documents supporting reasons for classifications) was not considered permanent record material and as such was not retained by the Selective Service Commission.  For example, the National Archives cannot provide documentation or a reason for why someone was classified as “4F”. 

 

Date of Birth Ranges of Draft Cards in NARA holdings:

 

WWII

  • 4/28/1877 – 2/16/1897 (Known as 4th Registration or Old Man’s Draft)
  • 2/17/1897 – 3/31/1929 (1st – 6th Registrations, except 4th)

Post War

  • 8/30/1922 – 1940
  • 1941 – 3/28/1957

 

Washington D.C. is considered a state in this series.  NARA has Draft Registration Cards for men born between 4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957.

 

In addition to holding the draft cards for states, NARA also has draft cards for the following territories:

Guam                   8/30/1922 – 3/28/1957

Canal Zone          4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957

Puerto Rico          4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957

Virgin Islands       2/17/1897 – 3/28/1957

 

The 4th Registration draft (Old Man’s Draft) cards were scheduled for destruction prior to the 1973 Fire.  The following states had already destroyed their collection of this date range before the National Archives took custody of the records:



North Carolina               Mississippi                    Maine

Alabama                         Florida

Georgia                          South Carolina

Tennessee                       New Mexico



How to access these records

 


 

To access draft registration cards or classification ledgers for 1940 – 1975, please fill out the ‘Selective Service System Records Request’ form and send it to:

 

National Archives & Records Administration

National Archives - St. Louis

ATTN: RL-SL

P.O. Box 38757

St. Louis, MO 63138-0757

 

For information on WWI draft cards, please visit our website, ‘World War I Draft Registration Cards’ where you will find a history on this series as well as how to access them.

 

You may find more information on this topic on the webpage ‘Selective Service Records’.

 

Draft Cards Online

 


 

As of February 2020 the WWII Draft Registration Cards from all states and territories held at the National Archives at St. Louis have been scanned and uploaded to Fold3 and Ancestry.com for a fee.  National Archives locations have public use computers where researchers may access both Fold3 and Ancestry for free.

To highlight another series that is available on the National Archives Catalog, we are featuring the new scanned series of index cards to the Anti-Submarine Incident Reports from the Anti-Submarine War (ASW) Section of the Records of the 10th Fleet in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38). 

 

Like many records at the National Archives, accessing the ASW Incident Reports has been a two-step process by reviewing the index and then ordering the reports.  The Incident Reports are arranged by report number, which is numeric and does not indicate the target, attacker, or date.  Because of this, the index is the only way to access them.  The index is arranged by the designation of the attacker of the enemy submarines.  On each card for an attacker, the incidents are arranged by date with a report number listed. 

 

To further explain the arrangement of the index cards, the four small boxes are divided into Ships (A-Z), US Naval Aviation, Non-Navy Aviation (Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard), Foriegn Aviation, and a few cards on Surrendered Vessels.

 

The reports themselves are a record of an attack on an enemy submarine usually German U-boats and some Japanese submarines. These reports detail how contact was made, how the attacking unit proceeded to pursue the enemy, the attack itself, and the assumed result of the attack. The purpose of the reports and the collection as a whole was to learn how to improve anti-submarine strategies and tactics by seeing what worked and what did not.

 

Due to the lack of organization and a central channel for reporting incidents at the beginning of the war, anti-submarine incident reports were not consistent until mid-1942. As the United States entered World War II, America was confronted by a clear and present threat of German and Japanese submarines attacking our supply lines with Great Britain and Australia as well as moving our own troops and equipment to the battle fronts across the sea. Despite this threat, the US  was slow to adopt anti-submarine methods like convoying, securing information on departing ships at ports, and even blacking out coastal cities so as not to silhouette incoming and outgoing ships.  

 

The first move to addressing the submarine threat was the formation of the Convoy and Routing Division under the Chief of Naval Operations in May 1942.  The Convoy and Routing Division was responsible for routing and protecting merchant shipping in U. S. waters and troopships going abroad. C and R was the forerunner to the 10th Fleet, which was established in May 1943. In the year between the establishment of the two commands, the science of anti-submarine warfare had blossomed with refinements to SONAR, improved depth charges, and forward throwing subsurface weapons called Hedgehogs. Also, there was improvement to aviation with multi-engine aircraft that could take air patrols out further into the U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic and with new Arc lights to illuminate them in the night as they recharged their batteries on the surface following a day’s hunting.

 

Around April-May 1942, the reporting on anti-submarine activity became more regular and consistent.

 

The index cards and the ASW Incident Reports also relate to other series in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38). The Incident Reports, in some cases, may duplicate what are in the Action Reports and in other cases, they are purely unique. The detail also varies widely from a single page or less description to a multi-page report complete with sketches of the attack. Therefore, if you are researching anti-submarine operations during the war, it is important to review both the Action Reports and the ASW Incident Reports.

 

These series also relate to other records within the Records of the 10th Fleet such as Convoy Reports and US and Allied Shipping Losses as well as the separate series of Armed Guard Files, which are reports from the US Naval Armed Guard units that served aboard merchant ships to defend them.

 

Another series of records that have records relating to Anti-Submarine Warfare during World War II are the World War II Command Files.  This series is arranged hierarchically by command and office.  For example, there are ASW bulletins among the files of the Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet (COMINCH/CINCUS); ASW Information (weekly notices) filed with the records of the Atlantic Fleet; and separate sections of records for the offices of the Anti-Submarine Section and the 10th Fleet that were directly related to ASW efforts during the war. There may be other ASW-related materials incorporated into a larger report sent to a higher fleet or regional command such as an island command, sea frontier or naval district.

 

To inquire about the availability of an Anti-Submarine Incident Report or any of the records suggested, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, If you are interested in ordering a copy, please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request, which is required for the reproduction order form.

 

There are few events in U. S. history that spark the imagination to “what happened” than the disappearance of Flight 19 on December 5, 1945. In brief, for those unfamiliar with the story, Flight 19 was a training flight of five Grumman TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers that took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, FL on the afternoon of December 5, 1945.  The training flight was to take them east and fly near the Bahama Islands and then return to Fort Lauderdale. The purpose of the training was to teach dead reckoning skills and using speed, heading, and elapsed time to navigate. The first part of the flight in getting to the Bahamas was successful. It was on the return when things took a different turn. One of the compelling aspects of this story compared to others of ships or aircraft lost in the Bermuda Triangle is that the air stations along eastern Florida were either listening to or in communication with the flight commander Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor as the flight was getting lost.  Starting around 3 PM, transmissions from the lost planes began to be received. For the next three hours, naval air stations listened to the growing confusion and frustration of the commanding pilot as he tried to figure out how to either get back or land somewhere safe. Then the radio transmissions ended about 6:30 PM that evening with LT Talyor saying that they might have to ditch at sea unless they found land and that when the first plane goes below 10 gallons of fuel, then all will ditch together.

 

Sadly, this was only the first part of this tragedy.  The Navy sent out units to search for the lost planes as early as 6 PM that evening.  Among the search and rescue units were two PBM-5 Martin Mariners, large seaplanes, from Naval Air Station Banana River, FL that took off at 7:27 PM.  One the PBM-5’s made a routine call at 7:30 PM and then was never heard from again. There is some evidence that the Mariner may have exploded in mid-air because there were reports from vessels at sea near the Mariner’s patrol area saying they saw a “fireball” approximately around the time another ship lost RADAR contact with the plane.

 

The U. S. Navy was baffled by the loss of both the Avengers and the Mariner, and so they investigated.

 

Among the newly added series of digitized records to the National Archives Catalog is National Archives Publication M1657: Folder A17: Fort Lauderdale-5 TBM Crash-December 5, 1945 THRU PBM-1946, a single reel of microfilm that is part of the series Subject Files, 1945-1958 in the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (Record Group 181) that are in the custody of the National Archives at Fort Worth, TX. The microfilmed series is a collection of materials that was eventually used in the Navy’s Board of Investigation including weather observations, the history of the aircraft and engine logs, a rough crash log, radio station logs, preflight forms, communication logs, incident reports, air/sea rescue plans, maps of the search area.

 

In addition to these records, there are related records in other series that have not been digitized in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference. In the World War II Command Files that are part of the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38), there is a file unit titled Shore Establishments, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Board of Investigation 5 TBM Avengers 7 December 1945 that includes a copy of the findings of the Board of Investigation (Box 419). There is another copy of the Board of Investigation in file units Type of Command, Training, Naval Air Advanced Training Command, Jacksonville, FL Board of Investigation into Missing TBMs and PBM Airplanes December 7, 1945 Part I and Part II (Box 373). 

 

In the Casualty Assistance Branch Ships, Stations, Units, And Incidents Casualty Information Records in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24), there are casualty reports filed under NAS Fort Lauderdale (Box 109) and under NAS Banana River (Box 108). These files include correspondence from the Casualty Assistance Branch regarding the circumstances of the losses and any legal changes to their status.  Part of the file addresses the aircrews’ status as missing versus being declared dead.

 

On the other side of the story, not only were trained personnel lost, but so were several planes. The accident reports for the aircraft can be located in the series titled General Correspondence, 1943-45 in the Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics (Record Group 72). The five Avengers are filed under “VTBM1/L11-1 1945” in Box 5181 and the Mariner is filed under “VPBM5/L11-1 1945” in Box 4766. These accident reports include a form report describing the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft, who was aboard at the time, additional information related to the search efforts, and the general decision on who or what was to blame for the loss. In this particular case, a decision was made, based on the evidence on hand, but deferred the final decision to the Board of Investigation to be held later.

 

In addition to the records at the National Archives in College Park, there may be other relevant records relating to Flight 19 that were created by local naval air stations and the regional naval district. The records of the 7th Naval District (Florida) and the naval air stations that were involved in the incident are in the custody of the National Archives at Atlanta. An example of these records are the Central Subject Files, 1942-1945 of the 7th Naval District. Because these are administrative files, they are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual 4th Edition, 1941.  A short of list of select filing designations are A17-9 (Naval Courts and Boards), A17-24 (Court of Inquiry), A17-25 (Board of Investigations), L11-1 (Material Loss), the different aircraft types, VTBM1 and VPBM5, and the different naval air stations NA29 - Jacksonville NAS, NA59 - Cocoa and Banana River NAS, and NA106 - Fort Lauderdale NAS.

 

Besides these records that directly relate the topic of Flight 19, there may be other series in  record groups that are overlooked because they are not as well known and somewhat difficult to use. An example of this are the records in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.  Located at the National Archives in College Park and in the regional branches like the National Archives in Atlanta, this record group is divided into naval commands, and there may be several entries per command that cover World War II through the late 1950’s.  These records are difficult to use because most, not all, have not been processed and described, and therefore do not have easy to use finding aids. As an example of this method, using the information from the Board of Investigation, it references the Gulf Sea Frontier and Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet as being contributors of reports in the investigation and recipients of copies of the investigation.  The training flight and the aircraft were organized under Naval Air Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, which is a subordinate command to Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, and the search and rescue effort were conducted by units from the Gulf Sea Frontier. So any records from these commands could potentially have relevant records.

 

Located at the National Archives in College Park, there are two series of correspondence both the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier and the Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. The majority of the series in RG 313 still are unprocessed and undescribed. In many cases, the agency paperwork that came with the records are used as ad hoc finding aids.  This is in part why these series in RG 313 are often overlooked.

 

For the Gulf Sea Frontier, there are the Unclassified Correspondence, 1940-1946 and Formerly Security Classified Correspondence, 1940-1946, which are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual, so the suggested filing designations are a good place to start. As it is these series have been processed with container lists, so they are more accessible.

 

For Training Command, Atlantic Fleet are the Confidential, Restricted and Secret General Administrative Files, 1944-1945 and the Confidential and Unclassified General Administrative Files, 1941-46.  Both series are arranged by the Navy Filing Manual. These two series have not been processed or described, so the record dossiers would be the finding aids.

 

The loss of the planes in Flight 19 and the search plane PBM5 in 1945 with all the new innovations of RADAR, IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) Transponders, and the myriad of equipment that was available to pilots and crew to help them survive a crash, stay afloat and help searchers find them goes to show how big the ocean still is.  Six, relatively small, planes proved to be impossible to locate in churning waters of the Atlantic and in among the miles of shore lines of Florida, Grand Bahamas, and elsewhere. The loss of the planes and crew of Flight 19 remains a mystery to this day.

 

Vessel & Station Log Books

 

The National Archives and Records Administration preserves the log books of the vessels and stations of several Federal agencies (see list), capturing different levels of information and time spans.

 


Researching Log Books
Original log books in NARA holdings are almost always open for research. To view them in person, please consult our website and choose the NARA location you wish to visit. Reference archivists can also perform reviews of log books you are interested in ahead of your visit to verify specific events or dates of interest. Please email the location’s reference team ahead of time, or use the Contact Us online form, to request this service. To order copies of records online, visit our website.

U.S. Navy Logbooks


Navy logbooks are our most popular and well-known logbooks. 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.Logbooks/Deck Logs are not detailed journals describing a ship's mission and all events transpiring in and around the ship, although they do sometimes provide information about a ship's operations. The entries can be repetitive and dry. They list officers until 1957 but do not list all the personnel on board. Look for those listings in the ship’s Muster Rolls or Personnel Diaries. Please keep in mind that references to individuals in a Deck Log are incidental and most service members are not referenced in a Deck Log. But a Deck Log can provide background information relating to the service of an individual service member such as identifying the service member’s location by identifying the ship’s location.

Some of the Navy deck logs in NARA custody have been digitized and are available online through the National Archives Catalog. Please check the listing to see if a ship in which you are interested is available. 

During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.*


Logs of Armed Guard Vessels


During WWII, the Naval Transportation Service Division (established on January 26, 1942) determined the current and prospective shipping requirements for the Navy exclusive of those of the operating forces of the fleets and made long-range plans for the allocation of merchant type ships by the War Shipping Administration to the navy. It procured merchant-type vessels over 1,000 tons gross by charter or purchase from the U.S. Maritime Commission on the War Shipping Administration, for use by the Navy as auxiliaries.
The logs are part of the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 - 2007 (Record Group 24) and the files are part of the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 1875 - 2006 (Record Group 38). Both are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:

  • Armed Guard Logs, 1943 - 1945 -- These logs were prepared under the direction of the Armed Guard commander aboard each ship, and comprise a brief daily account of events of the armed guard crew including mustering, disciplinary actions, and security matters.
  • Armed Guard Files, 1934 - 1946 -- The files often include more information about the activities of the Merchant vessel and Armed Guard crew that contained in the logs.


On October 1, 1949, the Naval Transportation Service Division was absorbed into the Military Seas Transportation Service (MSTS) (see below)..

Logs of U.S. Army Vessels

 

At various times in the U.S. Army's history, the Quartermaster General directed the operations of Army-owned and -contracted vessels for the movement and supplying of soldiers. The Continental Army utilized vessels during the Revolutionary War as early as 1775, and the U.S. Army directed vessels for logistical support during operations on the frontier as early as 1792. However, NARA has received few logs of these U.S. Army vessels. NARA’s holdings of U.S. Army vessel logs mostly reflect the movement of supplies and personnel during the time of the the Mexican War (1846-1848), the American Civil War (1861-1864), the Spanish-American War (1898), the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), and World War I (1917-1919). Information provided in these series varies widely, but often includes name and location, date, name of commander, meteorological data, operations conducted and fuel/coal expended. A few Engineer Logs for and Port Logs about transports are also available.

According to NARA records, in 1951 the Department of the Army destroyed all manifests, logs of vessels, and troop movement files of United States Army Transports for World War II and most of the passenger lists. 

All series of logbooks and related records listed below are part of the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92): Located at the National Archives in Washington, DC


Located at the National Archives in Seattle, WA


Located at the National Archives in College Park, MD

Deck Logs of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and the Military Sealift Command (MSC), 1946-81


The Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) was established in 1949 to consolidate shipment of military supplies from the four separate services used during World War II into a unified command. Many of the ships that formed MSTS in the early years were reassigned from the Army Transportation Service (ATS) [See U.S. Army Vessels].  During the Vietnam War, MSTS became the Military Sealift Command (MSC). These logs, which evolved over time and have varying degrees of consistently recorded information, date from as early as 1946 and reach to 1981.

  • Information captured in these logbooks includes:
  • Ship name
  • Date
  • location or port of departure and planned destination
  • ship's course
  • total distance traveled
  • meteorological information
  • brief entries giving a running account of the principal activities aboard the ship.

 

Entries typically mention the ship departing or entering a port, mustering the crew, drills and inspections, passing navigational buoys, setting lookouts, bringing a harbor pilot aboard, and sea conditions. If a crewman took ill or was injured and sent to sick bay, this also may be noted.

 

All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:



U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard Logs


The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard both created logbooks housed at the National Archives. The types of logs created include logbooks of depots, bases, lifesaving stations, and air stations; Coast Guard vessels, merchant vessels, and revenue cutters; lighthouses, light stations, tenders, and light vessels; and Port Security units.
The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS) is the nation's oldest continuous armed maritime service and merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) in 1915 to form today's U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The U.S. Lighthouse Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939.  Most of the logs in NARA custody date from 1822 to the 1980s, but the earliest log book is that of the USRC Massachusetts for 1791-1795.
These logs vary greatly in the amount of detail they contain, depending on when they were created, who created them, and their intended purpose. They mostly contain chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Revenue Cutter or Coast Guard vessels or units fulfilling the multiple missions of this military service, including:

  • enforcing the collection of revenue customs
  • smuggling and slave trade interdiction
  • search and rescue operations
  • environmental and shipping law enforcement


The logs can also include:

  • summaries of disciplinary hearings
  • sick lists
  • occasional reports of injuries
  • use of daily rations
  • ship inventories


All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the United States Coast Guard (Record Group 26) and located at the National Archives in Washington, DC:


Other type of log books available:

For U.S. Coast Guard logs from 1972 to the 1980s  see our Regional Archives depending on the vessel's home port and location of station.  Logs beyond the time span of NARA holdings remain in the legal custody of the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

*During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.



Logbooks of U.S. Merchant Marine Vessels


The Merchant Marines created two types of logbooks:

  • Official Logbooks
  • Merchant Logbooks.


Official Logbooks were required for all foreign voyages mandated by legislation enacted in 1872, and were occasionally filed for coastal voyages when a birth or death occurred during the voyage. All of these logbooks are part of the Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (Record Group 41):


Most Official Logbooks from 1939 to the 1980s are part of the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26) (see above) and are located in the regions based on port in which log was turned in.
Merchant logbooks were maintained by various U.S. flag merchant vessels operating around the world. Included are logs for:

  • Chief officers'
  • Engineers'
  • Deck departments'
  • Engine room logs


Logbook entries also  include:

  • hourly reports on operating systems
  • personnel on duty
  • any problems or unusual situations
  • weather conditions


All of these records are part of the Records of the U.S. Maritime Commission, 1917 - 1950(Record Group 178) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS)


NOAA and the USCGS conduct hydrographic and oceanographic surveys and studies. The logbooks, with some variance, include daily entries of the ship's position, weather conditions, remarks on the status of each department of the ship, notations of any mechanical problems or unusual weather conditions, and descriptions of the day's hydrographic and oceanographic surveying activities.
There are two USCGS series that contain logbooks and are part of the Records of US Coast and Geodetic Survey (Record Group 23):

These two series are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.


The NOAA logbooks are part of the Records of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Record Group 370):

This series is located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

 

This series is located at the National Archives in Seattle.

To continue to highlight new digital series available on the National Archives Catalog, World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, 1942-1946 is another series that has come from NARA’s digital partners. This series includes some war diaries, some action reports, some submarine patrol reports and some battle histories of various naval, Marine, and other Allied commands during World War II. These records were scanned from a microfilm series that the Navy created from select war diaries and other reports.

 

This series is the first step in researching a Naval and some Marine operations during World War II, but remember this is not a comprehensive series of war diaries and so its title is a little misleading.  If you cannot find a war diary or an operational report for the Naval command you are interested in the digitized war diary series, then please be aware that there are larger textual series of War Diaries, Action and Other Operational Reports, World War II Command Files in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) and the U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (a. k. a. Geographic Files) in the Records of the US Marine Corps (Record Group 127) where you might find what you are looking for. 

 

One of the interesting tricks to the textual series of war diaries is that there are some command war diaries that have been stamped saying that a certain portion of the war diary has been microfilmed. Those microfilmed portions can be found in this series.  As a follow-up to this statement, please do not assume that in all cases where one series ends the other begins. There are several cases where there is duplication and in others there are exclusively solitary copies of reports - meaning they exist solely in one series and not in the other. 

 

The duplication of reports in multiple series or the isolation of unique reports in individual series can be said for action and other operational reports.  Again If you cannot find a particular action report or Marine operational report, then you might try to look at the associated textual record series.


If you need to check for the availability of a war diary, action report, or another type of operational report, then please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, and RDT2 can check their holdings.  If you are interested in getting a copy, then please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request in case RDT2 needs to draft a reproduction order form for you.

In the last few years, the National Archives has been partnering with online services like Ancestry.com and Fold3.com to digitize microfilm and microfiche series of records. The intent was that after a span of time on these sites, these materials eventually will be made available on our Catalog. One of these series is the World War II Submarine War Patrol Reports, NARA Publication M1752, NAID 305243, and Entry A1 307 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

This series is arranged by the name of the submarine and then by war patrol number, but through the Catalog, you can “Search Within This Series” and search for any specific submarine.

 

Please remember, this series only includes reports of assigned war patrols and war patrols that were completed. The majority of the war patrol reports are from submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific; Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific; and Commander, Submarine Forces, 7th Fleet. If you are looking for periods of training, extra duties outside of a patrol, or when a submarine was lost, then you will need to look in other records in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations or in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.

 

At the beginning of World War II, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet decided that submarines operating in the Pacific were not to maintain war diaries like other vessels, but to file report on their assigned war patrols as an equivalent record of activity.

 

The war patrol reports consist of several sections including a brief summary of events between patrols, which covers training and overhauls, a chronology of patrol, a record of sightings (ships and aircraft), data on torpedo firing, and evaluations of different departments and sections aboard the boat on how equipment and crew performed during the patrol.

 

These records and this digital collection is helpful to begin any research on World War II Submarine Operations in the Pacific. During the war, submarines were asked to do more than sinking ships.  They were asked to drop off or pick up troops like in the Makin Island Raid and the invasion of Adak, rescue downed pilots in lifeguarding missions, photo-reconnaissance missions, evacuating people and material, and to lay mines.  Sometimes there were additional reports that were filed, but not included in the war patrol reports.  These additional reports can sometimes be found in the World War II Action and Operational Reports, Entry A1 351 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, NAID 305236.  The action reports can also include reports on the loss of a submarine, collecting all the available information on when they were last hear from or seen.

 

There are other series within Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces under Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific and Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific. There are several entries for these commands within this record group.  These series are the administrative files of these commands and are arranged by or use the Navy Filing Manual (4th Edition, 1941). You can use these files to further develop the background to a mission or what information was gained from a mission.

The National Archives entered into an agreement on August 9, 2019 with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to digitize U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from vessels with Vietnam-era service.

 

“Our goal is to support the processing of claims by the VA and enable sailors to relive their tours online through the actual deck logs, to pinpoint where they served," said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “As a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam on the hospital ship USS Sanctuary, I look forward to seeing my ship's deck logs and revisiting this important history."

 

U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs, in the custody of the National Archives, contain critical information required to validate the claims for those who served in Vietnam and establish service-connection for disability benefits. Deck logs are part of the National Archives’ archival holdings and therefore are not normally permitted to leave their storage locations.

 

A deck log is a daily report of ship activity, typically completed by junior officers and signed by the ship’s commanding officer. The deck log contains information regarding movements (heading and speed), and the ship’s location, and in some cases have information on combat operations, accidents, injuries, and other personnel events. This partnership includes the digitization of deck logs from 1956-78.

 

Beginning on August 22, 2019, the VA will begin scanning more than 20 million images from the U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs. While the scanning project is underway this group of records will be closed to researchers at National Archives facilities, but access will be restored as soon as possible after the paper records are returned. The National Archives will also begin the process of making the digitized records available on archives.gov, after images are transferred to NARA by the VA, and the images are screened for privacy concerns. Tentatively, the scanning/digitization/posting part of the project is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2020.

 

This project will support the processing of veterans’ claims, including those related to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, and eventually facilitate increased access to these records by researchers in a digital format without having to travel to a National Archives facility. Through this partnership, National Archives will improve access to and discovery of these historically significant records.

A group of University of Virginia graduate students created a project using data from U.S. Navy deck logs—held at the National Archives at College Park and available via the online catalog—to pinpoint locations of various ships during the Southeast Asia conflict. The deck logs formed a chronological account of notable events occurring in and around a ship, reminded the officers of the deck of their duties, and checked on the activities of the officers. They also served as evidence in legal proceedings in naval, admiralty, or civil courts when necessary.

More important, the deck logs contained the coordinates of where the ships traveled during their time in service, information that can help prove a veteran’s exact location during the war.

The students used the information collected from the log books to create a database showing which ships were in the Agent Orange exposure zone, which was defined by legislation as within 12 nautical miles of a boundary off the coast of Vietnam. 

https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/students-create-tool-to-help-navy-vietnam-vets

Although there may be yearbooks and crew photos intermingled with textual records of the units, ships or crews, they are not considered permanent records unless the photographs were taken by the Army Signal Corps or other official military photographers usually for publicity. These photographs were considered permanent records are part of the photograph collections listed in the blog postings highlighted below.

 

Sometimes, the officers of a unit or crew will pay for a photographer to come to their base to take pictures, These photographs sometimes are filed in the records of the unit or crew but oftentimes they are just distributed to the individual members with no permanent copy kept.

 

NARA's Special Media Branch blog, "The Unwritten Record," posted a 4-Part series that explains about researching for military unit or crew photographs during WWII using records at the National Archives in College Park - Still Pictures (RDSP). Please contact RDSP via email at stillpix@nara.gov if you have any questions about these records:

 

Come out and join us for a U.S. Coast Guard Logbook Scan-a-Thon on Wednesday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

 

This event is part of the Innovation Hub’s effort to digitize pages from logbooks of United States Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. Learn more about the Coast Guard in Vietnam project.

 

During the scan-a-thon, you will help to scan pages from these records so they can be made available online. We’re hoping to scan 2,000 pages in one day!

 

At noon, archives specialist Adebo Adetona will give a talk about the Coast Guard’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

 

All you need for this event is a research card, which you can get at the National Archives Building. You don’t need to have any prior experience scanning records—we’re happy to show you how it works.


Email innovationhub@nara.gov to reserve a scanner and time slot.