This record collection in Ancestry Library Edition (Ancestry LE) indexes a number of books documenting naval history stretching back to the U.S. Navy’s early days. Most of these books are in fact casualty lists that include details on sailors who were killed, wounded, went missing in action, or were taken prisoner. Not all deaths are war related, however: also documented are personnel who drowned, were lost in shipwrecks, or died from other accidents or misadventures during peacetime.
Note: the title of this record collection includes the date range 1776-1941, yet one of the source books indexed is Combat Naval Casualties, World War II. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain WWII ended in 1945—so an update to that date range definitely seems in order!
Content of the records varies, depending on year and type of record, but typically includes the following:
date (death, wounded, MIA, etc.)
ship or station
cause of death
Some lists also include next of kin and address, and some record enlistment details. Aside from casualties, some books contain lists of medical corps members and recipients of citations, medals, or awards. While predominantly featuring sailors, these records may also include Marine Corps personnel.
In addition to searching for specific individuals, you can also easily search for persons who resided in a particular state at time of enlistment:
SEARCH—ANY EVENT (Exact) Missouri, USA 4,873 hits
SEARCH—ANY EVENT (Exact) Illinois, USA 11,729 hits
You can’t search for a sailor’s city or town at time of enlistment, but some of the source books indexed do provide that information. So it’s usually worthwhile to View Record whenever presented with that option, as additional information is sometimes available.
You can use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.