Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army)


(Record Group 203)
1792-1965

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 203.1 Administrative History
  • 203.2 Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army) and its Predecessors
    1792-1940
  • 203.3 Records of the Chief of Finance as Budget Officer of the War Department
    1901-42
  • 203.4 Records of the War Credits Board 1917-25

203.1 Administrative History

Established: In the War Department, by General Order 43, War Department, July 15, 1920, implementing relevant provisions of the National Defense Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 759), June 4, 1920, which created the Finance Department.

Predecessor Agencies:

In the War Department:

Payment of troops:

  • Office of the Paymaster General, Pay Department (1816-1912)
  • Office of the Chief, Quartermaster Corps (QMC, 1912-14)
  • Office of the Quartermaster General (OQMG), QMC (1914-18)

Centralized financial management:

  • Purchasing Service, Office of the Chief of Staff (Jan.-Feb. 1918)
  • Purchase and Supply Division, War Department General Staff (WDGS, Feb.-Apr. 1918)
  • Finance Section, Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage and Traffic Division (PS&TD), WDGS (Apr.-Aug. 1918)
  • Accounts Department, PS&TD, WDGS (Aug.-Oct. 1918)

Centralized financial management and payment of troops:

  • Finance Department, PS&TD, WDGS (Oct. 1918-Apr. 1919)
  • Finance Service, PS&TD, WDGS (Apr. 1919)
  • Finance Service (Apr. 1919-June 1920)

Transfers: To Chief of Administrative Services, Services of Supply (SOS), effective March 9, 1942, by Circular 59, War Department, March 2, 1942, implementing a general reorganization of the War Department authorized by EO 9082, February 28, 1942; to Army Service Forces (ASF, formerly SOS) by General Order 14, War Department, March 12, 1943; with Fiscal Division, ASF, to newly established Office of the Fiscal Director, ASF, by Memorandum W35-10-43, War Department, May 15, 1943, as implemented by Circular 30, ASF, May 15, 1943, with Chief of Finance designated as head of the Receipts and Disbursements Division; to staff of the Office of the Fiscal Director in reorganization resulting from transfer of budgetary functions to Budget Division, WDGS, by General Order 37, War Department, July 7, 1943, as implemented by Circular 56, ASF, July 31, 1943; to autonomous status as an ASF technical service, assuming administration of the Finance Department and other functions of abolished Office of Fiscal Director, by Circular 52, ASF, March 2, 1946, effective March 15, 1946, as confirmed and modified by Circular 70, War Department March 9, 1946, which set March 11, 1946, as the effective date; to Director of Service, Supply, and Procurement, War Department General Staff, as a technical staff, with Finance Department a technical service, upon abolishment of ASF, effective June 11, 1946, by Circular 138, War Department, May 14, 1946, in the War Department reorganization pursuant to EO 9722, May 13, 1946; with WDGS to the Department of the Army (formerly the War Department) in the newly established National Military Establishment (NME) by the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 495), July 26, 1947; to General Staff, U.S. Army (formerly WDGS) by Circular 1, Department of the Army, September 18, 1947; to Office of the Army Comptroller (OAC), Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), Department of the Army, by Circular 342, Department of the Army, November 1, 1948; with Department of the Army to the Department of Defense (formerly NME) by National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579), August 10, 1949; to Office of the Comptroller of the Army (formerly OAC), OCS, by Circular 109, Department of the Army, October 15, 1949; as head of the Finance Corps, to Office of the Comptroller of the Army, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management), effective February 8, 1954, by General Order 12, Department of the Army, February 12, 1954.

Functions: Disbursed and accounted for all funds under the War Department, including the pay of the army. Prepared departmental budget estimates and supplemental and deficiency estimates, 1921- 42.

Abolished: Effective May 14, 1967, by General Order 22, Department of the Army, May 4, 1967.

Successor Agencies: Office of Chief of Finance and Accounting.

Finding Aids: Richard W. Giroux, comp., and Maizie H. Johnson, rev., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army), PI 142 (1962); Maizie H. Johnson, comp., "Supplement to Preliminary Inventory No. 142, Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army)," NM 75 (Jan. 1967).

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

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203.2 Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army) and
its Predecessors
1792-1940

History: Position of Paymaster of the Army created by an act of May 8, 1792 (1 Stat. 280). Superseded by the Office of the Paymaster General, established by the act creating the Pay Department (3 Stat. 297), April 24, 1816. Position and Office of the Paymaster General abolished concurrent with the consolidation of the Pay Department, Subsistence Department, and Quartermaster Department by the army appropriation act for FY 1913 (37 Stat. 591), August 24, 1912, to form the Quartermaster Corps, under the Office of the Chief, QMC, redesignated Office of the Quartermaster General by the army appropriation act for FY 1915 (38 Stat. 356), April 27, 1914. Pay functions initially vested (1912) in subordinate Finance and Accounting Division, which became Finance and Accounts Branch, General Administrative Bureau, in QMC reorganization under Office Order 202, OQMG, January 26, 1918, and Finance and Accounts Division in reorganization under Office Order 376, OQMG, April 16, 1918.

Centralization of War Department financial activities during World War I began with establishment of Purchasing Service in the Office of the Chief of Staff by General Order 5, War Department, January 11, 1918, to supervise acquisition of supplies and munitions and to coordinate army procurement, including supervision and coordination of all appropriations, estimates, requirements, and associated financial matters. Redesignated Purchase and Supply Division and assigned to WDGS by General Order 14, War Department, February 9, 1918. Consolidated with Storage and Traffic Division to form Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division (PS&TD), WDGS, by General Order 36, War Department, April 16, 1918. Initial organization included Finance Section, Purchase and Supply Branch, PS&TD, responsible for providing advice to War Department supply bureaus on standardizing financial transactions. Finance Section superseded by Accounts Department, PS&TD, responsible for supervising and coordinating all accounting systems, appropriations, and other financial matters relating to purchase of supplies, by Supply Circular 80, PS&TD, August 27, 1918.

Accounts Department abolished by Supply Circular 98, PS&TD, October 11, 1918, and superseded by Finance Department, PS&TD, under Director of Finance, with consolidated responsibility for financial and accounting activities, personnel, and equipment of WDGS and War Department supply bureaus. Acquired responsibility for paying the army upon transfer of Finance and Accounts Division, OQMG, by Finance Circular 2, Office of the Director of Finance, PS&TD, October 21, 1918. Reorganized as Finance Service, PS&TD, by Supply Circular 30, PS&TD, April 9, 1919, and made an independent operating bureau of the War Department, April 11, 1919. Redesignated Finance Department, under Office of the Chief of Finance, 1920. SEE 203.1.

Textual Records: Letters sent by the Secretary of War relating to estimates, appropriations, expenditures, and other financial matters, 1800-1912. Communications sent by the Division of Requisitions and Accounts, 1900-12. Registers of letters received, 1863-70; and endorsements received, 1878-85, by the Secretary of War. General correspondence of the Office of the Director of Finance, 1918-20; and of its Funding Division, 1918- 19. General correspondence of the Field Operations Division, Finance Service, 1919-20. Finance circulars, 1918-20. Office memorandums, 1919-20. Bulletins, 1933. Special orders of the Finance School, 1936-38. Registers of warrants, 1792-93, 1800-13, 1815-19, 1820-22, 1852-1915. Appropriation warrants, 1913-40. Registers of requisitions for funds drawn on the Second and Third Auditors of the Treasury, 1822-94. Registers of war credit requisitions, 1848-98. Requests of chiefs of bureaus for requisitions, 1871-88. Requisitions for funds, 1890-1912. Accounts ledgers, 1809, 1813-17, 1848-1940. Account journals, 1895-1917. Fiscal docket books, 1876-1940. Docket books relating to pay and bounty land claims, 1895-97; and to repayments, 1904- 11. Rogue River, OR, Indian War (1854) claims register, 1871-75. Statistical reports relating to fortifications and armaments, 1915-32. Records relating to the International Arms and Fuze Company, 1924. Reports to the Comptroller General, 1933. German government securities, 1915-24.

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203.3 Records of the Chief of Finance as Budget Officer of the War Department
1865-1965

History: Chief of Finance designated by the Secretary of War as the departmental budget officer, in conformity to the act creating the Bureau of the Budget (42 Stat. 20), June 10, 1921. Function transferred to the Fiscal Division, Services of Supply, March 1942.

Textual Records: Estimates and appropriations, 1901-42, and related general correspondence, 1920-30. Central decimal files, 1918-54 (368 ft.) Organizational files, 1930-65 (284 ft.). Miscellaneous correspondence files, 1930-55. Foreign Claims Section files, 1865-1945. Estimates and justifications, and related correspondence and proceedings, 1921-41. Formerly security-classified correspondence relating to the apportionment of War Department funds, 1939, 1941. General correspondence of the Budget and Legislative Planning Branch, 1925-41. Records of the Historical Branch, 1908-63. Historical monographs, 1940-45.

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203.4 Records of the War Credits Board
1917-25

History: Established by the Secretary of War, November 20, 1917, to advance funds to defense contractors. Terminated, 1925.

Textual Records: Minutes, 1917-19. Correspondence, 1917-25.


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.


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