Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009, has recently been updated on Fold3. Cruise books are akin to academic yearbooks—each one recounts the deployment of a ship and crew through photos, commentary, maps, and events. The books were created and published by a team on board and then purchased by, or given to, crew members. Although not official publications, the U.S. Navy encouraged the creation of cruise books. Many are archived in private collections and at the Navy Department Library, the latter being the provider of those now on Fold3.
Although cruise books were published in the early twentieth century, they became much more popular, and almost routine, after World War II. Reminiscences of a particular deployment from the perspective of those on board ship provide engaging inside glimpses of what it was like at sea and in port. Photo pages are grouped according to departments and divisions. Additional candid photos show sailors and officers working andrelaxing. They reveal duties and responsibilities aboard a vessel, as well as off-duty camaraderie at parties, in sports, and during holidays. Photos taken during shore leave in places like Hawaii, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, and ports around the world mirror the memories of those who served. Thehomecoming pages at the end of many of the books are especially poignant.
The Navy Department Library notes that “many sailors depart their ship or unit prior to the distribution of cruise books, and thus never receive them, or the books are lost due to fire and flood etc.” Fold3 recognizes the importance of making these books available online. Launch your exploration of Navy Cruise Books and we encourage you to contribute your memories and tributes if you find yourself or a shipmate within the pages.