The Naval Historical Foundation often receives inquiries on a wide range of naval history subjects, from veterans looking for service records, to family members trying to track down a deceased relative’s naval service, to the general public interested in learning more about the history of the U.S. Navy. While we are happy to direct people to the proper organization to conduct this research, the Foundation itself does not maintain a collection of government or private records related to U.S. Navy history. Thus we can not directly answer questions that require archival research.
Many such questions can be answered quickly by consulting the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website at www.history.navy.mil/nhc3.htm. For example, questions on how to obtain a relative’s Navy service record, or how to find the roster of crewmembers of a particular ship, are addressed by those “FAQs”.
Researching the Naval Service of an Individual
In general, the first step in the research process on any veteran would be to request his or her service records. The Naval Historical Foundation does not provide assistance in this area, you can request those records yourself from the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis. Please see the Naval History and Heritage Command FAQ on service and medical records to learn how. The National Personnel Records Center has information on their website on how to do this as well, check here.
The Foundation’s Historical Services Department can work with you to reproduce prints or digital copies of historic photographs and artwork from the collection of the Naval History and Heritage Command. For more information, please visit the Photographic Reproductions section of our website.
Cruise Book Research
The Foundation does not directly provide cruise book reproductions, but we have partnered with a number of organizations that can produce both physical and digital reproductions of U.S. Navy cruise books. Please visit the Cruise Books section of our website for more information.
Inquiries About Naval Artifacts
The Curator Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command is the principal custodian of the Navy’s material heritage. If you have questions about an artifact such as a uniform, medal, or piece of a equipment from a ship, please contact the Curator Branch here.
Inquires About Ships and Aircraft
Questions related to U.S Navy ships and aircraft should be directed to the Histories Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Their contact information can be found here.
Naval History Research Links
American Naval Records Society
Historic Naval Ships Association
Library of Congress Manuscript Division
Library of Congress Veterans History Project
National Naval Aviation Museum
National Park Service Maritime History Parks
Naval History and Heritage Command
Naval Order of the United States
Navy Department Library
U.S. Naval Institute
The Captain’s Clerk