This series contains various documents and ephemera pertaining to US naval officers and some civilians, especially those serving during the 19th century. Coverage of a number of outstanding officers of the late 18th and early 20th centuries, as well as some enlisted personnel, also is provided. It is estimated that the careers of 35,000 separate individuals are documented to some extent in these files.
The contents of individual files can include such items as: (1) compiled service chronologies; (2) biographical summaries; (3) service data cards (Civil War period); (4) letters of recommendation for appointment or promotion; (5) pay vouchers (Civil War period); (6) fragmentary personal and official letters; (7) official Office of Naval Records and Library, and Naval History Division correspondence providing information on specific officers. The contents of individual files range from extensive to sparse, sometimes only containing a single piece of paper.
Use and Reproduction Policy
Z File materials are unavailable for loan and must be consulted in the library. Photocopying of manuscripts, as well as fragile items, is generally prohibited, though the use of digital cameras by researchers to reproduce non-copyrighted materials is permitted. Permission to photocopy a few pages may be granted by the reference staff, contingent upon the physical state of items. All photocopying of materials shall be done by the reference staff, or under their close supervision. The use of personal scanners by non-library staff personnel must be approved by the reference staff on a document-by-document basis (Reference: Naval Historical Center Instruction [NAVHISTCENTINST] 5070.1C.).
The NDL staff are in the process of inventorying and digitizing these files. The lists available below are incomplete and may not reflect current holdings. Updates will be made to these lists as the information becomes available.
Please note that we are also in the process of placing distinguishing identifiers (rank, rating, etc.) next to individuals with the same name.
* denotes personnel has one or more folders dedicated to their documents