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Researching Lighthouse Keepers

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USLHS OR USLHE Personnel Records
Records from this era are largely stored at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Due to the frequency of requests for this type of information by people conducting genealogical research, the National Archives have made the majority of this data available on 6 rolls of microfilm. The title of this microfilm set is “Registers of Lighthouse Keepers, 1845-1912” its publication number M1373, and it can be ordered directly from the National Archives. Contact the National Archives at:

National Archives and Records Administration
7th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20408

Many larger libraries have a copy of this microfilm set in their permanent collections. For example, the Michigan State Library in Lansing has the complete set available for public reference. Copies for review at your local library can also be ordered through the Interlibrary Loan program.

Since the 1980’s, Phyllis Tag has conducted in-depth research in this specific subject area. They estimate that they have identified approximately 95% of all the keepers who served at US lighthouses on the Great Lakes through the early 1930’s. They publish individual books listing all of the keepers organized by Lake , by lighthouse, and by the keeper’s last name. These books can be purchased directly from the Tags by emailing them at

Some time ago, Tom and Phyllis Tag gave their exclusive permission to Terry Pepper to incorporate their research into his western Great Lakes lighthouse histories on his website “Seeing the Light.” Each lighthouse history page features a section titled “Keepers of this light” with a link to a listing of all the known keepers who served at the respective light station. Terry's website can be found at






Coast Guard Military Personnel Records
These records are stored in the National Personnel Records Center .
If the individual you are researching served in the Coast Guard sometime between 1914 to the present, it may be possible to obtain copies of their service records. Contact the National Personnel Records Center at:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Records Facility
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis , MO 63132-5100

Coast Guard Civilian Personnel Records
Civilian personnel records are stored in a different branch of the National Personnel Records Center . If the person you are researching served as a civilian in the Coast Guard or any of its predecessor agencies, you will need to contact the Civilian Records facility of the National Personnel Records Center at:

National Personnel Records Center
Civilian Records Facility
111 Winnebago Street
St. Louis , MO 63118-4199

Coast Guard Crew Lists
These records are stored at the US Cost Guard Records Branch. If you are looking for the names of the crew of a particular cutter or those of a Coast Guard station, you will need to send a request, in writing, to the following office in the Coast Guard's personnel command. Indicate in the letter which cutter or station and the date (month and year) you are interested in:

Records Branch, CGPC-adm-3
U.S. Coast Guard Personnel Command
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100
Arlington, VA 22203-1804

Good luck in your quest!


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