Greetings. I'm a rank newbie seeking payroll records, logs, inspection reports, or other documents that might identify who served at U.S. Life Saving Service Station New Inlet, N.C. (Hatteras Island), in the years 1894 to 1897. Although this is an end in itself, my present purpose is identifying personnel shown in an undated photograph tentatively identified as the New Inlet crew. The photograph seems to show an integrated crew. Although several integrated crews existed in North Carolina and Virginia in the 1870s, the USLSS reportedly abolished those remaining on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 1880, when it created a single all-black unit by transferring all the black surfmen to Pea Island to serve under a newly appointed black keeper. Preliminary investigation suggests that this photograph could not have been taken before 1894, however. Another photograph that has turned up seems to show the same crew in a formal pose at a station of a kind built only in the mid–late 1890s. The original structure at New Inlet was built in 1882, and the annual reports do not mention a replacement until 1908. The spotty payroll records available locally start in December 1897. All the men named therein seem to have been white. All this suggests any of several conclusions, including (1) New Inlet had a integrated crew in a period when none is believed to have existed on the Banks. (2) The second photograph shows the New Inlet crew at a New Inlet Station omitted from the annual reports. (3) The second photograph shows the New Inlet crew at another station. (4) The photographs have nothing to do with New Inlet, but may nonetheless show a forgotten integrated crew. (5) The photographs do not show an integrated crew.
It probably behooves me to continue comparing station records with the 1900 census. The USLSS personnel records in College Park seem to start in 1898. The Atlanta branch reportedly has nearly 5 linear feet of undigitized logbooks (1883–1916). District realignments after the Coast Guard formed in 1915 may have bundled some older North Carolina material with like items from Virginia housed nowadays in Philadelphia. Alas, all three branches are closed. Any thoughts on how, when, or whether to proceed?