Learn more about Navy records and how you can use those records when tracing your family roots or looking for former sailors.
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The Navy is a branch of the armed forces in America that consists of sailors and other soldiers as well as officers. They spend most of their time on boats but may also serve on land or in submarines. The Navy serves an important role during wars and other conflicts. During the conflict in the Middle East, a Navy ship fired the warning shot that let the country know an attack was imminent. The Navy first established public records in 1775 and updated those records over the years to include information on sailors and others who served. You can now find different types of Navy records online.
Through the National Records Personnel Center and the National Archives, you can access payroll records. These records date back the 1700s, though early copies usually only include the name of the sailor, where he served and the dates of his service. Starting in 1860, the Navy updated its records to include more information about the sailor such as a short description of the person and when the Navy discharged the person. You may find the reason for the discharge as well as when the individual passed away. If you need to view records from before 1860, you need to know the name of the ship where the person served. Those records list the ships first and then the names of the sailors.
If you want to know if someone in your family served in the Navy, you can view service data online. This means that you don’t need to submit a formal request or visit one of the archives. Service data is available from many different online sources, though most charge a small fee to access those records. You can search based on name only and view information about when and where the individual served. Navy records will typically tell you any of the ships that he served on too.
You shouldn’t forget about pension records either, especially if an ancestor served in the Navy. Any person who served in the military for a specific timeframe will receive a pension. The amount drawn depends on how long the individual served and other factors. When someone passes away, the pension can move to a dependent. With online pension records, you can see who else received military benefits based on a person’s name and Navy service.
It can take months from the time you submit a Navy records request and get copies of those records. Depending on the type of information that you need, you might find it helpful to look online first. With online Navy records, you can find a person’s rank, enlistment dates and much more.
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