Posted by Ancestry Team on November 10, 2009 in Collections

To commemorate Veterans Day, today added more than 600 Navy cruise books to its online collection of military records. This effort is the result of an agreement between and the United States Navy.

The collection of Navy cruise books, available exclusively online at, represents nearly 40 years of cruises following World War II (roughly 1950-1988) and chronicles an estimated 450,000 servicemen deployed at sea during that time. The Navy Department Library has on file an estimated 3,500 cruise books, which plans to digitize and add to this collection over time.

Cruise books are modeled after yearbooks and typically include portraits of sailors, officers, and other personnel on board the ship. Other features of a cruise book may include candid photographs of crew members at work and play, details and history of the ship, and short biographies on officers. Below is a page taken from a Navy cruise book as an example.

Image from a Navy Cruise Book

A few famous personalities can also be found in the collection, including famed television host and comedian Johnny Carson. Carson is found in the 1946 edition of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania cruise book. Following World War II, Ens. Carson was assigned to the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, a battleship stationed in the Pacific. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is also found in the collection in the 1946 edition of the U.S.S. Jacinto cruise book.

Image of Ens. Johnny Carson

Above: Ens. Carson (third row from the front, seventh from the left) on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania.

The Navy cruise books are part of the U.S. Military Collection, which includes 100 million names and spans more than three centuries of American military service. Now through Nov. 13th, has made its entire U.S. Military Collection searchable for free.

If you’re like me, you have family members who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. My own father spent 30 years in the Air Force. Why not take a moment this Veterans Day to see if you can learn a bit more about your military heritage and visit’s U.S. Military Collection.


  1. LAL522

    This will be a fantastic collection when it’s completed! I was very excited when I saw the announcement, but you can’t fathom my let-down when I found that the ship my dad served on isn’t listed yet. Still, thank you for working with the Navy to secure such an interesting collection!!

  2. Joanne C. Close

    I am very disappointed in your Navy Cruis Book addition. You do not honor the data I enter and force me to review the entire collection of multi year entries of 600 ships. When I ask for USS St Louis, 1942 I get every ship starting with USS America and every current year. If the data is not covered in your archive then why not flash a reminder that the collection begins later. You have blurbs saying the collection begins in 1940 or spans more than 300 years, yet you do not honor the search limitations I present. Why not ASK if the researcher wants an expanded group, and give the option of saying how to expand such as add’l years or other ships. Why not honor the data entered then ASK. If I say 1942 then all you should show is 1942 +/- whatever I enter…not every year to the present. If an ancestor died in 1986 and retired in 1949, why would I be interested in all the other ships or years? You give an impossible set of data and an impossibly frustrating obstacle to good research. This response display is unacceptable.

  3. Linda Wageck

    My husband just died two months ago. When he was young, he was in the US Navy from 1950-54. But I don’t find him listed anywhere in this collection. Why not?

    He was an officer aboard the USS Toledo,
    C-133 headed for Korea.
    Aboard the cruiser he
    was a member of the choir and also sang in another group.

    Any suggestions?

  4. Suzanne Campbell

    @Linda: We are digitizing and adding the cruise books alphabetically by ship name, and so far have digitized books with ship names beginning with “A” through “C.” We will continue digitizing the rest of the cruise books over time, so check back with us!

  5. Jennifer

    If searching the military records is supposed to be free through 11/13, why am I being forced to sign up for an account? When I click on a link I’m interested in that matches my tree, I’m taken straight to the payment page and am being told to start a free trial which will then, conveniently, be followed by a monthly fee. I don’t want to start up my membership again right now. It’s too expensive and I don’t have the time. I don’t care if it’s free for 14 days…that’s just a way to get people to forget they’re going to be charged if they don’t cancel. But I would like to peek at these databases to see if they’re worth even coming back to for. What gives?

  6. Herbert Lee Gupton Jr.

    You correctly list Herbert Lee Gupton,Sr.
    1908-1952 That is my father. The Herbert Jr. you list as deceased 2004, is not related to our family, and I must inform you that I, Herbert Lee Gupton, Jr.dob 11-18-1938, am alive and well. Could you clarify this in your archives? Thank you

  7. Robert

    Thank you all. I have found a photograph of a relative shot down over Viet Nam. The Navy Dept nor the Archives had been able to provide his picture. NOW I HAVE IT. Again THANKS!! Bob T.

  8. Richard Johns

    Why do I have to pay such a high monthly rate to view information you recieve from the public for free???

  9. Andy Hatchett

    Richard Re:#11

    Because you have to pay for the processing, storage, etc. of all that information.

    Ancestry is a business- not a public service organization.

    As such it is free to set whatever rates the market will bear.

    Nothing is *ever* “free”. There is always a cost involved somewhere for someone.

  10. Andy Hatchett

    Sharon Re:# 13

    And rightly so!

    $300 wouldn’t begin to cover the cost of lodging, gas, etc. needed for research trips to gather all the info we can grab in a day from Ancestry.

    Even if you only use Ancestry 300 hours a year that is $1.00 a day- and you can’t even park a car for that nowadays!

  11. Al Cary

    I was really excited when I seen this. I left the USS Kearsarge CVS-33, in Sept 1961 before the cruise books were distributed to the crew. I never did get mine. Do you have any idea if and when it may be accessible??

  12. Patrick H O'Brien

    Please show some respect for your customers’ time. I was excited that you advertised Navy Cruise Books. Why not worn us that only ships with names beginning with A, B, C were included.

    When will you get to the Ls?

    Pat O’Brien

  13. Patrick H O'Brien

    Please show some respect for your customers’ time. I was excited that you advertised Navy Cruise Books. Why not warn us that only ships with names beginning with A, B, C were included.

    When will you get to the Ls?

    Pat O’Brien

  14. Dorey

    I only have 1 ancestor that served in the Navy, but found that even though I enter his full first and middle and last names the search engine gave me everyone with the same last name. Is there some way you or we can narrow the search to make it easier to locate a person? I think that would be most helpful. Although I subscribe to Ancestry, I would not be willing to invest in this item since I only have the one relative in that branch of the service, would not be worth it for me.

  15. Jess McCoy

    I too, was a little frustrated to find only ships through “C” had been entered, after 45 minutes of searching through unrelated parameters. That information should have been highlighted. As good as the search is, it needs improvement. If you enter “US Navy” as a keyword, 700 US Army enlistments should NOT be in the results. Please continue to work on this search engine.

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