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Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989 (Record Group 233)



Chapter 20. Records of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and Its Predecessors



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Records of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and Its Predecessors from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988


Committee records described in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 1947-86

History and Jurisdiction

20.15 This committee was established under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946; its jurisdiction included the subjects that had been referred to the committees on World War Veterans' Legislation, Pensions, and Invalid Pensions before they were abolished by the Act.

20.16 The creation of the Veterans' Affairs Committee brought all veterans' legislation into the consideration of one committee. Prior to the consolidation of committees under the 1946 reorganization the dispersal of responsibility for veterans' affairs among the several committees caused concern as to the fairness and equality of treatment. George Huddleston described the problem as it appeared in 1924 although the solution was not achieved for another 22 years:

    I believe that everybody will agree that the soldiers of all wars ought to be treated with a certain amount of equality. As the situation stands at present, we have three separate committees which deal with Civil War soldiers, Spanish War soldiers, and World War soldiers. . . . In the past it has worked out that the soldiers of the Civil War receive one kind of treatment, the Spanish-American War soldiers an entirely different treatment, and the World War soldiers still a third type of treatment, and their widows and dependents are discriminated against in the same way. Does not the gentleman feel that it would be a step of real relief if we could consolidate this soldier-relief work and give one committee jurisdiction of the whole matter . . ?1

20.17 The formal jurisdiction of the Veterans' Affairs Committee includes matters relating to:

    (a) Veterans' measures generally. (b) Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans. (c) Life insurance issued by the Government on account of service in the armed forces. (d) Pensions of all the wars of the United States, general and special. (e) Readjustment of servicemen to civil life. (f) Soldiers' and sailors' civil relief. (g) Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.2

Records of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 80th-90th Congresses (1947-68)

 

Petitions & Memorials3 ft.80th-90th (1947-68)
Committee Papers291 ft.80th-90th (1947-68)
Bill Files4 ft.68th-72nd (1903-09), 77th-79th (1911-27)
TOTAL:294 ft. 

20.18 No minute books, docket books, or bill files from this committee are currently held by the National Archives. The activities of the committee and its relationships with constituents, interest groups, and the agencies in its jurisdiction are documented, however, in the petitions and memorials received by the committee and in large correspondence files that have been preserved.

20.19 The petitions and memorials document the concerns of veterans on a variety of subjects which included: pensions for veterans of both World Wars and the Spanish American War (81A-H12.1, 86A-H13.1); the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (81A-H12.2); a peacetime GI bill (86A-H13.1); an increase in the veterans' education allowance (86A-H13.1); the opening of numerous veterans' homes (86A-H13.1); and appropriations for VA hospital, domiciliary, and medical programs (81A-H12.3, 83A-H12.1). By far the largest number of petitions and memorials received pertained to various veterans' hospitals. Large numbers of petitions express the interest of veterans throughout the country in the construction and administration of specific veterans' hospitals such as the Schick Hospital in Clinton, IA (80A-H12.1, 82A-H13.1), the Barnes' Veterans' Hospital in Vancouver, WA (83A-H12.2), and a new VA hospital in South Texas (85A-H14.1). During the 89th Congress (1965-66) the committee received a large number of petitions and memorials protesting the closing of VA hospitals in Lincoln, NE; Miles City, MT; Rutland Heights, MA; and McKinney, TX; a domiciliary in Clinton, IA; regional offices in Juneau, AK; Sioux Falls, SD; Cheyenne, WY; and various other VA facilities (89-VA-5).

20.20 Interest in the construction and utilization of VA hospitals motivated several intense and well organized petition drives. A huge roll petition containing over 160,000 signatures was presented to the committee by the United Veterans Organization of Clinton, IA, on April 23, 1947. The mile-and-a-half long document claimed to be, "a petition coming from every city, town, village, and hamlet of Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio," and urged that the Schick Hospital be reopened (80A-H12.1).

20.21 The activities of the committee are well documented by the committee papers files. Several types of files appear regularly. For each Congress there is a full committee reading file, consisting of pink carbons of outgoing communications arranged alphabetically by the name of the correspondent (total 48 ft.). For each Congress there is a subject correspondence file which consists of the letters received and copies of the committee's responses arranged alphabetically by subject (145 ft.). The committee papers from 1947 through 1960 also contain correspondence files of Edith N. Rogers (10 ft.), who was committee chairman during the 80th and 83d Congress and ranking minority member until the 86th Congress.

20.22 The records of this committee contain a substantial collection of correspondence (24 ft.) regarding individual case files of veterans. In most instances, this correspondence is segregated, but additional case file correspondence may also be found in the general subject files or reading files of the committee. Other individual case files may be among the records of the various investigations conducted by the staff of the committee.

20.23 The committee papers files include collections (varying in degree of completeness) of the printed bills and resolutions referred to the committee and the printed reports, hearings, and committee prints produced by the committee. The committee produced an unusually large number of committee prints during each Congress, averaging almost 400 per Congress during the period under consideration. These prints provide access to a wide range of information regarding the work of the committee and other veterans organizations. The committee regularly printed the correspondence containing the comments of the Veterans Administration on proposed legislation; a chart of the resolutions adopted by the national conventions of the American Legion, American Veterans of World War II, Disabled American Veterans, Regular Veterans Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars; compilations of laws relating to veterans and their families; an index to all hearings held by the committee during each Congress; summaries of recent veterans legislation before Congress and recent changes in the laws affecting veterans; the findings of studies done by the committee staff or other government agencies; and correspondence received from the major veterans organizations. The committee also printed an index to its committee prints for each Congress that is usually included among its printed material collection.

20.24 During most of the period between 1946 and 1968 the committee had standing subcommittees on education and training, hospitals, housing, insurance, and compensation and pensions, as well as other short-lived select and standing subcommittees. No subcommittee records are in the National Archives at this time.

20.25 The National Archives, however, does hold records of several investigations conducted by the committee between 1953 and 1958. These consist of records documenting investigations of the following: the Tuscaloosa Veterans Administration Hospital (83A-F16.1, 2 in.); the Veterans Administration loan guaranty program in 1955-58 (85A-F16.6, 6 ft.); the fund raising activities of organizations acting in the name of veterans (85A-F16.5, 6 ft.); and an investigation of certain housing projects in New Jersey in 1955-57 (85A-F16.7, 4 ft.). The records contain a variety of files and documents. Those of the housing investigation, for example, consist of files on direct loans, entitlement sales, minority housing, foreclosure practices, interest rates, homes for paraplegics, appraisal and inspection reports, and complaint correspondence.

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Notes

1Congressional Record, 68th Cong., 1st sess., Jan. 14, 1924, p. 946.

2 U.S. Congress, House, Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States, Ninetieth Congress, H. Doc. 529, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 1967, p. 355.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). B y Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.
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