Life at the National Archives

I arrived today at the National Archives in College Park Maryland.  This is a world like no other.  If you’d like to visit here and look at some of these records for yourself, it’s a wonderful place.  It’s a wonderful place with it’s own rules, pace, and structure.  Because of a parking shortage, your encouraged to arrive early, preferably by 8am, then at 8:30 you get to get a photo ID identifying yourself as a researcher.  Wait around some more and you can store your stuff in a locker (you can’t bring anything but a computer or approved scanner into the archives), and wait until the archives open at 9am.  From 9am until 9:55am you research tombs of written record indexes and you get to write ‘requests’ for stuff you’d like to see.

It takes about an hour, from 10am until 11am for your records to be pulled.  So about 10:50 you get to see the first records.  Did you guess correctly?  You have 4 chances a day at record roulette!

I spent today looking at 3 major record collections for the Boston, the Deck Log,  the War Diary, and a variety of Action files.  I’ll blog more about content later.  The photo I included here is the bottom of first page of the Deck Log on commissioning day of the USS Boston.

If you come to the National Archives, bring a quarter for each person, so you can store things in the lockers, and be prepared to ask dumb questions; the people here are very helpful, but they generally get experienced people, so us greenhorns get to ask questions like, “How do I know when my records arrive from the archives? Do you announce them?” or “Who do I ask how to make a copy?”  The archives have a process for everything, you just have to figure it out, then you can follow it!

Crew Lists

At the end of the month, I’m planning a trip to the National Archives outside of Washington D.C. to research more information about the USS BOSTON. The archives have the original deck logs, war diaries, photographs, etc. from the USS BOSTON. The preparation has been a little daunting since in researching this topic, you find out that a deck log is a very large piece of paper that can have 4 pages on a boring day and 120 pages on an exciting decklog day. The USS Boston in World War II (CA-69) has six bound volumes that are 11 inches by 10 inches.

In addition, the archives houses war diaries, and muster rolls (who has on the ship) have been declassified are available on microfiche. One startling fact Steve and I came across from looking at the BEANPOT was in the first year at sea, 1/3 of the crew of the BOSTON was reassigned to other ships, often at liberty spots like Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific. The crew list we currently have is from one place in time which is just shy of 1600 sailors (I haven’t yet added the Officers). So if the turnover was constant we’ll exceed 2,500 sailors.

I’ll update everyone on my DC adventure…


Web Site Progress March 8th, 2010

I finished uploading a set of pictures I received from the national archives (the above picture is one of the entries). Please click on the left hand tab ‘Official Photos CA-69’. Most were shot in boston harbor after the first shakedown cruise. One was taken off the coast of California as the Boston was being escorted by the USS Grand Island (PF14).

I’ve made great progress on the crew list, soon the enlisted men will be complete.

I’ve added three new links, two are to the Rye Fire department of Rye New York which found themselves as the owner of the USS Boston’s anchor, the first story is trying to figure it out, the second story found some history as to how the anchor showed up in Rye New York. The third new link is for CA-69 Sailors who are still alive who want to join an organization devoted to US Cruisers, this site is added to the already existing USS Boston Shipmates site which is devoted to sailors and their spouses from all the the previous USS Boston’s, including CA-69.

I’ve deleted the chat function. We only had one person sign up and I was getting about 10 spam registrations a day. If we get 4-5 people who think this would be a good idea, then use the contact us form and let me know.. For now, just comment on a blog by clicking on the blog title and clicking ‘comment’.

Web Site Update

We’ve added some new pictures into a link called ‘Official Photo’s of CA-69’. I purchased these photos from the National Archives and modified them to fit on the website. I’m trying to incorporate their national archive name as the link so anyone could order the picture from the National Archives if they want to.

I’m considering eliminating the bulletin board section of the web site in the next month or so, the ‘Chat about the Boston’ on the link section. I’m getting three to four request from spammers to join a day (really? three crew members from russia want to join? a day? Humm.) These spammers are really persistent, one of them has attempted to use a different form of the same email address over 100 times (he or she comes from russia, turkey, Luthuania, China, and at least two places in the US!) I’ll close down the experiment of a bulletin board in about a month if it isn’t working.

If you want to comment on one of these blogs, feel free to use the comment section and enter a comment. Just click your mouse on the ‘No Comments’ title below the heading of the blog and you’ll be asked the enter a verification to make sure that you’re an actual human being, and not computer generated spam. 🙂


How I found my Father’s Naval Records


Updated July 2012

Are you interested in seeing your father’s Naval Records?   You have to be the son, daughter or spouse of a person who served in the Navy.     I found this great website that takes you through the process of requesting his (or her) records.

My Father’s request came some 4 to 6 weeks later and it had about a ½ inch of information that I never knew.   It had his enlistment paperwork, including addresses and information about his parents, the records had his promotion records, his leave dates, and a VERY interesting summary of his service on the USS Boston.   The records list every conflict the ship was involved in while he was on board.   Other nuggets of information include when the ‘crossing the equator’ ceremony was held, of course presided over by Neptunus Rex!

The website is part of the National Archives, here is the link:  Service Record Link

Before you start this online process, you’ll need some information:

  • His Social Security Number – You’ll need some of his old records for this
  • His Date of Birth
  • His Service number – I have my records on this website organized by service number, so if you search for the sailor, in your browser window you’ll see ?id=7618027 for Eugene Kelly for example.  This is your sailors Navy ID number in World War II
  • his approximate departure date from the service (guess 1-2 months after he left the ship)
  • You may need a copy of the death certificate

You may be charged for this request, in the past people were charged up to $40.