Earlier this month, USNI Guest blogger and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen delivered his 2009 State of the Coast Guard Address. The Q &A that followed his remarks was expanded to include questions submitted on-line via ICommandant. I submitted the following question regarding the Coast Guard’s history program:

Q13. What is the state of the Coast Guard’s historical program?

A13. The Historian’s office interfaces with every program in the Service. It has direct contact with the Commandant and nearly all the flag officers and directly communicates with politicians on their behest. The office works directly with hundreds of museums, academics, veteran groups, the retired Coast Guard community and all components of the public. The Museum Program has currently loaned-out thousands of artifacts to over 100 museums nationwide, and tracks and oversees about 20,000 artifacts. The loan program gives the Coast Guard exposure throughout the country and in many different venues.
Provided below is an overview of what resources are available to the Historian’s office, their key tasks, and major undertakings.


CG Headquarters office, 2 Area offices, CG Museum at the CG Academy, and the Exhibit Center in Forestville, MD.


1) The office regularly interacts with the media and participates in documentary interviews.

2) Public speaking is performed periodically but is restricted by staffing and budgetary limitations.

3) Part of the office mission is archiving historical material not destined for the National Archives. The Historian’s Office has an archive of nearly 2,300 liner feet of documents. This includes books, manuals, and photos. These collections are available to the Service and the public.

4) Historical website development is a major component of the business of the office. The website gets over 100,000 visits a year.

5) The office collects a limited number of oral histories each year.

6) The Historian’s Office is responsible for the preservation and management of the Service’s 20,000 artifacts.

7) The office is also responsible for the Coast Guard Museum and the promotion of the Service’s history through loans to other museums.

8) The office answers over 7,000 inquiries a year which requires 40% of the staff’s time.

Major Projects

1) The National Coast Guard Museum initiative could have the greatest impact on the program. The historian’s office is currently working on a system to provide creative and curatorial input into the design and construction process.

2) Another current issue that the office is involved with is creating the historical record of the Service’s transition to the OPCOM and FORCECOM organization.

3) The office is currently working with the Commandant to preserve his legacy and to document his tenure. The office has gathered hundreds of documents and collected many hours of oral history interviews.
4) The addition of the Area Historians has allowed the office to collect more oral histories and have a presence in the field.

5) The on-going development of the internet site allows the office’s information and collections to be viewed by members of the Service and the public. This helps with the overall promotion and dissemination of Coast Guard History.

Many thanks to Admiral Allen and his staff for expanding the Q&A session to include questions from the blogosphere and for the update on the CG’s history program. To view the rest of the Q & A session, click here.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Coast Guard, History

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