As a Navy veteran I have a particular fondness for U.S. Navy records, especially deck logs. From my first days here at the National Archives when I discovered that we had the actual deck logs from the US S Constitution including her service during the War of 1812 to the day I was handed a deck log of the USS Sanctuary, AH-17 , covering my time aboard that hospital ship in Viet Nam I have been hooked on this record series!
So, it was a real treat to learn that NOAA had approached us in April of 2011 with the idea of digitally imaging the logs of Navy and Coast Guard Revenue Cutter vessels as part of their work with OldWeather.org to document weather conditions in the North Pacific Arctic region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a wonderful crowd sourcing venture, volunteers working with OldWeather.org transcribe handwritten weather observations as well as log entries on vessel movement and activities. It is a win-win cross agency collaboration—NOAA gets the weather data and NARA gets the digital images for posting.
Scanning began in July 2012 and so far the logbooks of ten vessels have been completed and 65,000 images posted to our Archival Research Catalog.
Pressed flowers were found in the USRC Corwin log entry for 14 January 1891 from Port Townsend, Washington with the entry.
We knew we would come across mentions in the records of flora and fauna from various Pacific expeditions, but did not expect to have actual flora in the volumes. We are working with the American Horticultural Society and the Department of Agriculture to identify the flowers.
The USS Jeannette log documents that vessel’s entrapment in ice for 21 months.
And the log of the USRC Bear records the Overland Relief Expedition of the winter of 1897-98 to save the lives of 245 whalers trapped in the Arctic Ocean by ice around their ships near Point Barrow, Alaska.
Another creative endeavor to get all 12 billion pages in our custody available digitally!
Find out more about the historic Navy Deck Log digitization partnership at www.oldweather.org