In the 19th century, record keeping accelerated in the Turkish Navy. In 1867, the Archives Examining Office was founded in The State Archives Office of Ministry of The Navy. The documents of the Navy were kept in the Imperial Dockyard (Tersane-i Amire) during the post of Admiral-in-chief. Then, the documents were brought into the building which was built as the Ministry of the Navy (present Turkish Northern Sea Area Command). After the Sultanate and the Ministry of the Navy were abolished, the archives department continued to serve under the İstanbul Naval Command.

Due to the threat of the World War II, the objects and the archive documents were decided to be moved to Anatolia for security reasons. After the World War II, the objects of İstanbul Naval Museum and the archive documents were planned to be moved to İstanbul. During this period, the part of the Naval History Archives until the Second Constitutional Government (Meşrutiyet) (until 1908) was brought into Dolmabahçe Mosque. Lt. Haluk Şehsuvaroğlu was appointed director of this new unit of Naval Museum and Archives. Some documents including personal information and register of personnel names were transferred to İzmit. Furthermore, the operational documents concerning the naval front in the Italian War, Balkan War, World War I and Independence War and the logbooks of the ships were delivered to the Archive of General Staff.

After a while, due to construction works next to the museum, 15.000 archive registration books and files were determined to be transferred. Therefore, a building at Dolmabahçe was assigned to the objects of the Naval Museum and also the archive documents. The archive was kept here between 1956 and 1970. The Ministry of the Navy and Naval Office Archives were kept in Dolmabahçe Palace until 1970. With the orders of the Commander of the Naval Forces, the documents began to be transferred in Ankara – Lalahan. Finally in 1971, Archive Department was separated from the Naval Museum and transferred into Lalahan. It served there under the name of “Turkish Naval Forces Archives Office”. However, after a short time, it was considered to move the Naval History Archives from Lalahan to İstanbul again. According to the final decision, the Ottoman part of the archive would be moved to İstanbul and the rest would stay in Lalahan.

Our country is among the most well-known countries in the world in terms of archives sources. Thus, the number of the documents proves this claim. However, apart from the positive aspects, there are also some problems in providing fund and security of the documents, developing inventory records, preparing catalogues and presenting them to the public. In recent years, archives have gained importance in our country. The development of microfilm and other digital technologies have accelerated the improvement of the archives.

As Naval History Archives, we collect, preserve, and make available materials relating to the period from the 18th century to 1928. During the separation of the files / registration books what is called “classification”, the documents have been gathered into different categories. Today, Naval History Archives consists of 28 categories. 27 categories of them depend on the previous classification methods. The classification method was determined according to the certain units of the navy. But, after 1995, the classification separating the units has been abandoned and instead of it, the Abolished Ministry of the Navy which was determined as 28th category has begun to be taken into consideration. According to this method, the classification is as follows: 

Chief Secretary of the Ministry


Collection Commission of the Navy

Naval Office in General Staff


General Staff




Various Divisions

Fund Department

Command of the Fleet

Court Martial

Judgment Office

Legal Advisor Office


Clerks Commission


The State Archives

Workshops and Depots

Public Health Committee

Reform Commission

Register of Service of Employees

Personnel Records

Labor Records

Register of Names


Abolished Ministry of the Navy

After the foundation of the Turkish Republic, retired naval officers made research and classification of registration books and files in the Naval History Archives. Transferring of the archive documents from one place to another made the classification process complicated. However, classification studies according to the principle of administrative organization also began. After the transfer of the Naval Museum to Beşiktaş, the documents were also transferred from Dolmabahçe to Beşiktaş. Since 1960s, the classification according to the principle of provenance had begun with the help of the retired naval officers. In 1987, university graduate personnel began to be employed to the Naval History Archives in Beşiktaş, İstanbul. After all these studies, 10 volumes catalogue of names, the alphabetical index of Chief Secretary of the Ministry, the Naval Office in General Staff, Shipyards and 14 catalogues have been prepared until now.

These catalogues are as follows: Chief Secretary of the Ministry, The Naval Office in General Staff, Ships, General Staff, Shipyards, Harbors, Offices (I.,II.,III.,IV.), Command of the Fleet, Factories, Court Martial, Fund Department and Various Divisions, Reform Commission, The State Archives, Schools, Judgment Office and Legal Advisor Office, Accounting, Naval History Archives Catalogue – X, Naval History Archives Catalogue – XI, Naval History Archives Catalogue XII, Naval History Archives Catalogue – XIII, Naval History Archives Catalogue – XIV, Naval History Archives Catalogue – XV.