For over a century, each Government agency maintained its own records. Over time, however, the threat to these dispersed records became undeniable. In the 1800s, the War Office, Treasury Department, White House, and Patent Office all experienced fires, and irreplaceable records were destroyed.
In 1877, the Army Quartermaster General proposed construction of a single fireproof hall for Federal records. Over the decades that followed, a variety of new organizations, including the American Historical Association, the American Legion, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, called for a single agency to maintain the Government's historical records. By this time, Federal agencies were overflowing with files and papers. Finally, in 1934, the National Archives was established during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.