Seas of Knowledge: Digitization and Retrospective Analysis of the Historical Logbooks of the United States Navy

Material Description


Nearly everything we know about the world ocean prior to the satellite era can be linked to a single document type: the ship’s logbook. Other primary documents, including muster rolls, field note books, photographs and artwork, often depend on this link for context and interpretation. This project will digitize the logbooks and muster rolls of U.S. naval vessels (1861-1879), and selected related assets between 1801 and 1940. Beyond imaging, we recover geospatial reference, weather and ocean data, and other historical information through Old Weather, our citizen-science program. These data will be suitable for computationally intensive retrospective analysis (reanalysis) systems and for enhancing the discoverability and application of information from the logbooks. Images and data will be integrated into existing national and international data infrastructure. Large-scale manuscript-to-digital data conversion has great potential to foster new scientific and historical understanding and provides enhanced access to our shared maritime and cultural heritage.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

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University of Washington


Dr. Kevin Wood
University of Washington

Mr. Mark Mollan
National Archives and Records Administration

Mr. Patrick Madden
National Archives Foundation

Collaborating Institution(s)

National Archives and Records Administration,National Archives Foundation


  • 5130 Manuscripts