In the Navy

U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009 is a record collection in Ancestry Library Edition (Ancestry LE). These Navy cruise books represent various ships (plus a few divisions and squadrons). These cruise books are part of the Navy Department Library’s collection, which is the largest cruise book collection in the United States.

Cruise books are yearbook-style books put together by volunteers on board ship to commemorate a particular deployment. Cruise books generally include candid photographs of crew members at work and play; a history of the ship; and short biographies with portraits of captains, executive officers, and other prominent shipboard personnel.

This collection is searchable by ship name, ship ID, year, and name of crew member. The photos in this collection are uniformly good quality, although photos may be subject to copyright restrictions since cruise book are private, not official Navy publications. Many photos are not labeled, though, so if a search does not locate the person you seek, try using the Browse feature and search by ship name and year.

To get an idea of what cruise books have to offer, I looked at the 1946 cruise book for the U.S.S. Missouri (BB63). Cruise books are available for seven of the Missouri’s deployments. The 1946 cruise book includes a text history of the vessel illustrated with photos of its christening and maiden voyage. There are also photos and biographical sketches of its executive officers, and a map of its travels during 1944-1945.

The bulk of this cruise book consists of photos of the vessel’s 1944-45 deployment to the Pacific Theater. Photos include:

    Passage through the Panama Canal
    Work scenes in various ship departments
    Medical activities on board ship
    Religious services on board
    Entertainments like boxing matches and talent contests on board
    Kamikaze attacks on the USS Missouri
    Japanese emissaries on board the USS Missouri
    Representatives of allied armies on board the USS Missouri
    Signing of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri
    Japanese sailors and marines at Yokosuka Naval Base
    USS Missouri passing by Hampton Roads, Virginia
    USS Missouri steaming into New York Harbor
    Large crowd of visitors welcoming USS Missouri at New York Naval Yard
    President Truman on board the USS Missouri at New York Naval Yard
    Santa Claus and his assistants on board the USS Missouri at New York Naval Yard

Note: Since cruise books are private, not official Navy publications, the Navy Department Library does not publish, republish, or sell these books. You can sometimes find cruise books for sale on

You can use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.

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