The featured scanning project from the National Archives Innovation Hub focuses on logbooks of the U.S. Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. These vessels participated in Operation Market Time, an effort to patrol the South Vietnamese coast to keep supplies from reaching North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces.
The logbooks contain the highlights of each ship’s voyage, written up every four hours by the deck officer on watch. Information recorded may include incidents of shots fired, transportation of detainees, and contact with friendly or unfriendly vessels. Many veterans of the Vietnam War use these logbooks today to help establish their eligibility for veterans’ benefits.
To support this digitization project, the Innovation Hub recently held a scan-a-thon, inviting staff and the public to help veterans access the history of the ships they served on by scanning logbook pages. Thanks to our citizen scanners, we exceeded our goal of 2,000 pages and scanned a total of 2,314 pages in one day!
Once each month’s logbook is scanned, it is uploaded into our online Catalog and made easily available to everyone. View the completed logbooks in our Catalog.
Among the 20 attendees at the scan-a-thon were five Coast Guard veterans who scanned the logbooks of the ships they had served on in Vietnam. After the event, veteran Tom Livingston emailed to say:
“I had a great time in the Innovation Hub and I appreciate all of the hospitality shown to me by you and your staff. It was a thrill for me to touch some of the documents I wrote 50 years ago in Vietnam. I enjoyed it so much that I will plan another trip to DC this summer.”
Also attending were Scott Price, Chief Historian of the Coast Guard, and Emily Brockway from the Coast Guard’s Office of External Outreach and Heritage. The Innovation Hub hopes to work with these Coast Guard offices in the future as we continue the project.
Archives specialist Adebo Adetona gave a talk about the logbooks, how they were created, and how they are used today. The talk was streamed on Facebook Live. One attendee emailed later to say:
“I am glad that someone videotaped the lecture portion because the impact became more clear to me about the usage of the scans. Previously, I thought it was about Veteran pension benefits; now, I know that the scans support veterans made ill by Agent Orange exposure receive medical benefits rightfully due to them.”
Many thanks to all of our citizen scanners and scan-a-thon participants for helping to make these important records more accessible to our veterans. We estimate that there are over 100,000 total pages that need to be scanned for this project, so there is more work to be done. If you are interested in helping scan, visit us in the Hub! You can learn more about this project and how to volunteer at the National Archives Innovation Hub.