Getting your father’s records (UPDATED)

A few of you have let Steve and I know that the there is a new policy from the Naval Personnel Records administration to charge $60 to copy your father’s records.  I think this charge is new and I want to let the readers of this blog know that there is a fee!


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…


Getting the Naval Records of your Father

We’ve had a few requests from people who are trying to find their father’s naval records. I went through this process a few years ago and here is the process:

If you are the Spouse, Son or Daughter, you can use this process directly at no cost to you. It takes about 2 weeks to a month to receive a large packet from the records office. It’s always a fascinating bit of history.

If you are not the spouse, son or daughter, you can request an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to get partial naval records of the person your interested in. Their is an elaborate process:

They say they charge a ‘nominal fee’.

For Spouses, Sons and Daughters, you can get copies of the military awards and citations that were due your spouse/father from the Military. These include campaign ribbons for the appropriate campaigns that were fought by the USS Boston. Use the Erecs process above and cite that you want Military Awards and they will give you a site to write to.

If you do this for a USS Boston sailor, I’d love to get a copy of the “public” part of this record from what every you feel comfortable sharing.

I’ll discuss finding USS Boston ship records in a separate post.

Please use the ‘Contact’ link and send me an email if you have any questions.


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.