Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Bureau of Reclamation


(Record Group 115)
1889-1995

OVERVIEW OF RECORDS LOCATIONS

Table of Contents

  • 115.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 115.2 RECORDS OF WASHINGTON, DC, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES 1891-1987
  • 115.3 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER 1889-1971
  • 115.4 FIELD OFFICE RECORDS 1902-76
  • 115.4.1 Records of regional offices
  • 115.4.2 Records of project offices
  • 115.4.3 Other field office records
  • 115.5 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE OF SPECIAL ADVISERS ON RECLAMATION 1923-24
  • 115.6 RECORDS OF PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH RECLAMATION 1899-1934
  • 115.6.1 Records of the National Irrigation Association
  • 115.6.2 Records of the National Reclamation Association
  • 115.6.3 Records of the American Homecroft Society
  • 115.7 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
  • 115.8 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL) 1950-85
  • 115.9 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)

115.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Established: In the Department of the Interior by Secretarial Order 3064, May 18, 1981, redesignating the Water and Power Resources Service.

Predecessor Agencies:

In the Department of the Interior:

  • Reclamation Service, Geological Survey (1902-7)
  • Reclamation Service (1907-23)
  • Bureau of Reclamation (1923-79)
  • Water and Power Resources Service (1979-81)

Functions: Plans, constructs, and operates irrigation works in 17 contiguous western states and Hawaii. Builds and operates hydroelectric powerplants. Distributes electric power and energy generated at certain powerplants, reservoirs, projects, and dams.

Finding Aids: Edward E. Hill, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Reclamation, PI 109 (1958); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Reclamation in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

Top of Page

115.2 RECORDS OF WASHINGTON, DC, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES
1891-1987

History: Reclamation Service established in the Department of the Interior, under the jurisdiction of the Geological Survey's Division of Hydrography, July 8, 1902, to administer the reclamation fund established by the Reclamation Act, also known as the Newlands Act (32 Stat. 388), June 17, 1902, which set aside revenues from the sale of public lands to finance irrigation projects in arid and semiarid regions of the western United States. Separated from the Geological Survey, March 9, 1907. Given bureau status as the Bureau of Reclamation, June 20, 1923. Redesignated Water and Power Resources Service by Secretarial Order 3042, November 6, 1979. Name reverted to Bureau of Reclamation, 1981. SEE 115.1.

Textual Records (in Denver): General administrative and project correspondence, 1902-45 (1,917 ft.), with indexes and a microfilm copy of a file classification guide. Project and feature histories, reports of engineering boards, reports to the Board of Army Engineers, project operation and maintenance reports, and other special reports, 1902-60. Summary cost reports and narrative statements concerning construction at reclamation project sites, 1916-49. Public land withdrawal and restoration files, 1891-1945. Personnel correspondence file, 1902-40. Records relating to bureau oversight and administration of Civilian Conservation Corps activities, 1934-43. Legislative history files, 1945-68. Copies of proposed legislation for the 98th and 99th Congress related to water, energy, or conservation issues, 1983-86.

Maps (1,932 items): Western region of the United States, showing Bureau of Reclamation regional boundaries, precipitation, and locations of federal irrigation and hydroelectric projects, 1934- 87 (26 items). River basins, including the Colorado, Columbia, Gila, Missouri, and Yakima, showing land classification, irrigable areas, and proposed irrigation and dam development plans, 1908-50 (40 items). Specific reclamation projects (arranged alphabetically), including detailed plans of the Columbia River Basin Project, 1904-85 (546 items). Farm unit plats of townships in federal irrigation project areas, 1907-55 (1,320 items). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Aerial Photographs (23,165 items): Survey of the Colorado, Deschutes, and Weiser Rivers, and other river systems in AZ, ID, OR, UT, and WY, 1938-42. SEE ALSO 115.7.

Photographs (49,033 images): Construction progress at bureau project sites, and bureau projects and other activities, 1902-36 (JA-JAJ; 34,020 images). National parks, 1918-31 (PA-PI; 439 images). Bureau, department, and government personnel, 1902-35 (P, 534 images). Bureau exhibits and displays, 1922-32 (EX, 157 images). Maps and diagrams of bureau projects, 1912-33 (MAP, 104 images). Irrigation projects in foreign countries, 1920-27 (FB- FM; 151 images). Unsuccessful, incomplete, and small irrigation projects, 1904-31 (NA-NU; 971 images). Irrigation projects in the western and southern United States, 1914-34 (SA-SR; 1,976 images). Irrigation projects, showing construction and economic results, including an album of Coolidge Dam, AZ, prints, 1927-28 (DE, 79 images). Civilian Conservation Corps activities at bureau project sites, 1934-42 (C, CP; 10,500 images). Miscellaneous subjects, 1905-33 (MS, 102 images). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Microfilm Publications: M96, M1145.

Finding Aids: Emma B. Haas, Anne Harris Henry, and Thomas W. Ray, comps., List of Photographs of Irrigation Projects of the Bureau of Reclamation, SL 15 (1959).

Color Slides (900 images): Bureau activities, 1946-55 (KS). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Lantern Slides (385 images): Indian tribes of the western United States, 1899-1915 (L, 220 images). Bureau projects, 1930 (LS, 165 images). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.3 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER
1889-1981

History: Construction Division, headed by a Chief of Construction, established in Reclamation Service, December 15, 1914, to serve as bureau headquarters for project engineering research, planning, design, construction, and related administration. Division headquarters transferred from Washington, DC, to Denver, CO, June 1, 1915, where it constituted the Denver Office. Chief of Construction designated Chief Engineer, April 1, 1920, and division became Office of the Chief Engineer. Denver Office reorganized, September 9, 1943, and Chief Engineer named head of Design and Construction Branch, with supervisory responsibility for research, design, and construction. Chief Engineer designated successively Assistant Commissioner and Chief Engineer, December 1, 1953; Director of Design and Construction, September 1, 1970; and Assistant Commissioner for Engineering and Research, May 1, 1978. Denver Office designated successively Engineering Center, July 20, 1950; Engineering Research Center, May 11, 1967; Engineering and Research Center, September 1, 1970; and Denver Office, March 4, 1988.

Textual Records (in Denver): General correspondence ("Straights"), 1906-42. General correspondence (engineering), 1902-42. General correspondence (field records), 1902-42. Correspondence relating to office organization and personnel, 1914-42. Project construction and related reports, 1902-60. Project histories relating to operation and maintenance, 1910-14. Reports and histories relating to administration and conservation planning, 1960-71. Minutes of meetings of reclamation planning boards, committees, and special commissions, 1946-71. Records of reclamation congresses and conventions, 1943-71. Annual reports of the Upper Colorado River Commission, 1950-69. Technical publications, 1922-70. Technical records of design and construction, 1957-70. Hydraulic laboratory, geological, and hydrological reports and data, 1937-70. Project survey notebooks, 1889-1937. Completed land and right-of-way cases, 1945-54. Notices and applications related to irrigation projects, districts, and water rights, 1905-49. General correspondence relating to the Bard and San Luis townsites, 1911-81.

Engineering Plans (20,500 items, in Denver): Plans and blueprints of project sites and original and modified project features, 1902-60, with a few interfiled maps. SEE ALSO 115.7.

Photographs (90,349 images, in Denver): Construction progress at bureau project sites; bureau projects and activities; project towns, labor camps, and areas affected by projects; and bureau, department, and government personnel, 1902-70 (89,900 images). Research and testing procedures, laboratory equipment, and structural models at the Office of the Chief Engineer, Denver, CO, 1920-59 (449 images). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.4 FIELD OFFICE RECORDS
1887-1995

Top of Page

115.4.1 Records of regional offices

History: Established by order of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, September 9, 1943, to administer jurisdictions drawn up along river basin lines. Responsible for project planning, operations, and maintenance; public relations; negotiation of power contracts; and coordination of construction projects. The Upper and Lower Missouri Regions were merged into the Missouri Basin Region (Billings, MT), October 1985. The Southwest Region was joined to the Missouri Basin Region and its name was changed to the Great Plains Region (Billings, MT), October 1988.

Textual Records (in Denver, except as noted): Records of Region 1, Pacific Northwest (Boise, ID), consisting of scrapbooks of press clippings relating to bureau activites in Idaho and Oregon, 1903- 27. Records of Region 2, Mid-Pacific (Sacramento, CA), consisting of correspondence; minutes of meetings of planning boards, committees, and special commissions; planning, geological, and geographical reports; final construction reports for dam foundations, canals, and pumping operations; press releases; field books and other computations relating to surveys for the Cachuma Project in California, 1935-76; reports and correspondence relating to proposed reclamation projects, 1928-80; studies and reports relating to irrigation projects in California, 1935-72; design and construction reports for dams and other irrigation projects in California, 1947-79; administrative instructions and supplements to agency manuals, 1941-74. Records of Region 3, Lower Colorado (Boulder City, NV), consisting of press releases, 1933-79; and project histories for Boulder Canyon and related projects, 1934-87. Records of Region 4, Upper Colorado (Salt Lake City, UT), consisting of field notes and other records pertaining to the Carlsbad, Hondo, Pecos River, Provo River, and Rio Grande projects, 1890-1960; correspondence relating to water user organizations and irrigation works, Rio Grande Project, 1891-1914; records relating to adjudication of water rights, Carlsbad Project, NM, 1901-39. Records of Region 6, Upper Missouri (Billings, MT), consisting of records relating to organization, 1944-85; dedications and celebrations, 1945-84; climate and survey data relating to the Shoshone and North Platte Projects in Wyoming, 1887-1962; reports and data relating to water rights, distribution, and supply on the North Platte Project, 1905-37; orders and notices relating to withdrawn lands, 1904-44; demonstration projects on the Milk River irrigation project, 1930-35; general reports and publications, 1937-89; construction progress reports, 1964-89; and subject files relating to recreation areas, facilities, and services, 1952-87. Records of Region 7, Lower Missouri (Denver, CO), consisting of correspondence; minutes of meetings of planning boards, committees, and special commissions, 1917-76; minutes and reports of planning boards, committees, and special commissions, 1917-76; publications, reports, and technical publications, 1900-40; numbered and unnumbered technical publications, 1943-86; planning, geological, and geographical reports; final construction reports for dam foundations, canals, and pumping operations; and press releases, 1917-76. Records of the Great Plains Region Office consisting of minutes of meetings, reports, and other records relating to planning boards, committees, and special commissions, 1944-85; and correspondence relating to substations of the Fort Peck and Shoshone projects, 1946-5.

Engineering Plans (3,185 items, in Denver): With interfiled maps, showing project sites and structural features in Region 5, Southwest (Amarillo, TX), 1959-63; and Region 7, Lower Missouri (Denver, CO), 1937-54 (2,660 drawings). Drawings prepared by Region 1, Pacific Northwest (Boise, ID) relating to the construction, materials, and project locations for dams and other irrigation projects, primarily in Oregon and Idaho, 1911-62 (525 drawings).

Aerial Photographs (5,510 items, in Denver): Project sites and surrounding areas in Region 2, Mid-Pacific (Sacramento, CA), 1940-60; and Region 5, Southwest (Amarillo, TX), 1938-68. (4,610 items). Classification of lands in the San Luis Valley Project in Region 4, Upper Colorado (Salt Lake City, UT), 1941-65 (900 items). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Photographs (33,101 images, in Denver): Construction progress at project sites; project activities; towns, labor camps, and areas affected by projects; and agency and other government personnel in Region 1, Pacific Northwest (Boise, ID), 1903-65; Region 2, Mid-Pacific (Sacramento, CA), 1935-69; Region 3, Lower Colorado (Boulder City, NV), 1946-59; Region 4, Upper Colorado (Salt Lake City, UT), 1902-54, 1962-93; Region 5, Southwest (Amarillo, TX), 1944-64; Region 6, Upper Missouri (Billings, MT), 1935-74; and Region 7, Lower Missouri (Denver, CO), 1902-59. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.4.2 Records of project offices

Textual Records (in Denver): Correspondence; construction, geological, and hydrological reports; records relating to government towns; and project reappraisal reports for the Columbia Basin Project (Ephrata, WA), 1920-55; Palisades Project (Burely, ID), 1944-58; Navajo Indian Irrigation Project (Farmington, NM), 1964-65; Dolores Archeological Program (southwestern Colorado), 1983-88; Wapinitia Project (Madres, OR), 1948-58; and Milk River Project (Montana), 1893-1970. Records of the Klamath Basin Area consisting of repayment accounting sheets, 1917-49.

Maps (4,710 items, in Denver): Project land classification maps for irrigation project lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, created by the Grand Junction Projects Office, 1952-66 (1,300 items, in Denver). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Engineering Plans (1690 items, in Denver): With interfiled maps, concerning the Navaho Indian Irrigation Project reappraisal, 1964-65 (100 items). Planetable sheets created by the Columbia Basin Projects Office , 1935-47 (840 items). Drawings for the Umatilla Project, Oregon, 1904-41 (150 items). Drawings, maps, and design data for damsites and other projects in Arizona, 1942-72 (600 items). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Aerial Photographs (2 items, in Denver): Aspen, Colorado, showing sites of proposed dams, 1939 (1 item). Colorado River in the area near the Big Thompson Project, 1946 (1 item). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Video Recordings (72 items): Construction history of closed basin division, San Luis Valley Colorado Project, 1981-91. SEE ALSO 115.9.

Photographs (131,182 images, in Denver): Project sites, construction, and areas affected by projects; project activities; and agency and other government personnel for the Columbia Basin Project (Ephrata, WA), 1933-59; Middle Rio Grande Project (Albuquerque, NM), 1952-54; Upper Missouri Project (Great Falls, MT), 1955-59; and Missouri-Oahe Project (Huron, SD), 1955-59 (7,590 images). Irrigation projects in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, 1912-87 (8,000 images). Construction history of closed basin division, San Luis Valley Colorado Project, 1981-91 (5,300 images). Bureau projects (100,000 images). Youth ConservativeCorps projects in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, 1976-77 (700 images). Construction, renovation, and other activities at Bureau hydrological projects throughout western states, 1976-79 (9,000 images). Bureau personnel and early projects, 1906-43 (52 images). Reclamation activities, 1865-76 (540 images). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Photographs and Negatives (73,000 images, in Denver): Construction of the Dolores River irrigation project in southwest Colorado, 1982-84. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Photographs and Slides (3,000 images, in Denver): Teton Dam and related materials, 1969-78. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.4.3 Records of the Denver Office

History: The Denver office with four branches was established in the same reorganization by order of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, September 9, 1943.

Textual Records (in Denver): Reports and project histories for reclamation job corps facilities, 1965-84. Records of the Denver Service Center consisting of general reports on reclamation program administration and activities, 1926-92; design and construction reports for Madden Dam, Panama, 1930-38; construction specifications, 1902-94; International Affairs reports, 1914-87; cultural resource reports, 1942-94; engineering reports, 1912-62; draft environmental impact statement for the Central Valley Project, 1993; administrative directives, 1986-92; and technical research memorandums, 1931-77. Records of the Denver Technical Center consisting of general annual reports, 1952-92 (with gaps).

Photographs (55 images, in Denver): Groundbreaking and construction of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's headquarters building in Denver, CO, 1964- 67. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.4.4 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineer, Engineering and Research Center (Denver, CO)

Textual Records (in Denver): General reports, 1938-92. Numbered technical publications, 1950-92. Project reports, 1910-95. General technical reports, 1915-79. Land classification and plan reports, 1947-59. Studies and analyses relating to dam structures and operations, 1935-65. Technical record of design and construction, 1955-83. Staff information newsletters, 1945-95. Upper Missouri definite planning reports of the Garrison Diversion Unit (Bismarck, ND), 1953-60. Geology and geography reports for Narrows Dam (Fort Morgan, CO), 1948-61. Correspondence relating to withdrawals and restorations for reclamation projects, 1956-59. Policy and procedure memorandums for the assistant commissioner of Engineering and Research, 1989-94. Reclamation manuals and instructions, 1909-82.

Photographs (1,840 images, in Denver): Photographic collection of the Engineering and Research Center consisting of photographs, glass slides and negatives relating to the reclamation projects, locations, and personnel, 1906-65. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.4.5 Other field office records

Textual Records (in Denver): Correspondence and reports of the U.S. Study Commission, Texas, relating to natural resource conservation, 1938-68. Records of the International Joint Committee and of the Columbia River Engineering Board, 1944-61. Records of the Reclamation Service Center consisting of technical reports of dam design, construction, operation, and maintenance, 1961-92; bureau publications, 1905-83; and construction specifications for Boulder City, NV, 1931-56. Records of the Publications and Records Management Branch consisting of microfilm copies of drawings and other records related to bureau projects, 1906-62 (1,600 microfilm rolls).

Maps (2,732 items, in Denver): Drawings and plans of Civilian Conservation Corps portable camp buildings, 1936 (32 items). Engineering drawings and maps of locations and structures for various units in the Umatilla Project in Oregon and Bitteroot Project in Montana, 1904-62 (400 items). Land classification maps for the Owyhee Project in Idado and Oregon, 1946-93 (900 items). Project land classification maps of the Grand Junction Projects Office, 1952-66 (1,300 items). Plates, maps, graphs, and other data relating to groundwater analysis in the Tucson Basin and Central Arizona and Solano County, California, 1957-68 (100 items). SEE ALSO 115.7.

Engineering Plans (1,200 items, in Denver): With interfiled maps and plats, relating to project design and construction produced by the Upper Columbia Development Office, 1909-62, and Lower Columbia Development Office, 1941-58. SEE ALSO 115.7.

Photographs (3,791 images, in Denver): Construction of Almena, Bostwick, Franklin, Glen Elder, Kirwin, Scandia, and Superior irrigation projects in Kansas and Missouri River Basin, 1952-68. 90th anniversary celebration, 1992 (41 images). SEE ALSO 115.10.

Photographic Prints, Slides, and Negatives (12,000 images, in Denver): Reclamation projects in the western United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Malayasa, showing views of project sites, progress of construction, equipment and personnel, soils and materials tests, and aerial photographs of geographic features, 1920-90. SEE ALSO 115.10.

Top of Page

115.5 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE OF SPECIAL ADVISERS ON RECLAMATION
1923-24

History: Appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, September 1923, to study federal methods for reclaiming land through irrigation. Submitted report, April 10, 1924.

Textual Records: Reports, correspondence, and exhibits accompanying the final report, 1923-24.

Related Records: Committee report published as S. Doc. 92, U.S. Senate, 68th Congress, 1st session (Serial Set 8238).

Top of Page

115.6 RECORDS OF PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH RECLAMATION
1899-1934

Top of Page

115.6.1 Records of the National Irrigation Association

Textual Records: Clippings about irrigation, 1899-1906; land law repeal, 1903; and agriculture, 1905-10. Press releases, 1903-6. Drafts of legislation relating to river control, 1911. Records of the Mitchell News Bureau, 1902-3.

Top of Page

115.6.2 Records of the National Reclamation Association

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1911-34. Correspondence with government officials, 1914-18. Miscellaneous records and correspondence, 1912-14, 1918-33. Scrapbooks of George H. Maxwell relating to association activities, 1912. Court decrees and claims for water rights in Utah and Wyoming, 1904-16. Clippings relating to flood control, 1912-14. Government reports and publications, 1907-20.

Top of Page

115.6.3 Records of the American Homecroft Society

Textual Records: Records relating to the use of yards and vacant lots for gardens, 1920-21. Publicity material for Talisman, the society's magazine, 1920.

Top of Page

115.7 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)

SEE Maps UNDER 115.2, 115.4.2, and 115.4.5.
SEE Engineering Plans UNDER 115.3, 115.4.1, 115.4.2, and 115.4.3.
SEE Aerial Photographs UNDER 115.2, 115.4.1, and 115.4.2.

Top of Page

115.8 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL)
1950-85

Golden Valley, a production of the Bureau of Reclamation, documenting the activities of the bureau including building dams for power and electricity, irrigation, flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation, construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado Basin Pilot Project, and the Canadian River Project, 1950 (1 reel). The Great River, a coproduction of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration, documenting the Columbia River system of irrigation, flood control, and hydroelectric power dams; and the navigation, recreation, and wildlife protection benefits, 1963 (1 reel). Documentary activities of Bureau of Reclamation in the western United States including projects relating to atmospheric water resources experimentation; the activities of the Fish and Wildlife Service; archaeology projects; construction of the Glen Canyon and other dams, dam emergencies and repairs; flood control; Native Americans; local communities; a Job Corps project; and personalities like Congressman Ben "Night Horse" Campbell, Senator Frank Church, Arizona Governor Paul Fannin, Princess Maragaret, and Lady Bird Johnson, 1950-85 (161 reels).

Top of Page

115.9 VIDEO RECORDINGS (GENERAL) 1950-91

Video Recordings (196 items): Documentary activities of the Bureau of Reclamation including building of dams for power and electricity; irrigation and flood control; recreational activities; fish and wildlife conservation; construction of the Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Navajo, Ridgway, Brantley, Jordanelle, Fontenelle, and other dams; environmental studies; arechaeology projects; endangered fish studies; Animas-LaPlata, Middle Rio Grand, Central Utah, Strawberry Valley, Sevier River Basin and other projects; a Job Corps Project; Dolorus Project; and personalities like Congressman Frank Church, Arizona Governor Paul Fanin, Princess Maragaret, and Lady Bird Johnson, 1950-91.

SEE UNDER 115.4.2.

Top of Page

115.10 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)
1932-58

Group photographs of employees in the Office of the Chief of Engineers and other bureau offices, 1932-33, 1958 (3 images).

SEE Photographs UNDER 115.2, 115.3, 115.4.1, 115.4.2, 115.4.3, 115.4.4, and 115.4.5.
SEE Photographs and Negatives UNDER 115.4.2.
SEE Photographs and Slides UNDER 115.4.2
SEE Photographic Prints, Slides, and Negatives UNDER 115.4.5.
SEE Color Slides UNDER 115.2.
SEE Lantern Slides UNDER 115.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.