National Archives at Denver

Guide to Archival Holdings at NARA Denver, Record Groups 4-49

Record Group 4
Records of the U.S. Food Administration

Administrative History
The U.S. Food Administration was created by an Executive order of August 10, 1917, to assure the supply, distribution, and conservation of food during World War I; facilitate the movement of foods and prevent monopolies and hoarding; and maintain governmental control over foods chiefly by means of voluntary agreements and a licensing system. Federal food administrators were appointed for each State to implement the Administration's programs. After November 11, 1918, the Administration was gradually dismantled and its rules and regulations revoked. An Executive order of August 21, 1920, terminated all branches of the Food Administration still in existence, and the majority of its records were placed in the custody of the U.S. Grain Corporation.

Records Description
Dates: 1917-19
Volume: 87 cubic feet
Records of State food administrators in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The records document complaints from the public concerning violations of rationing and other food control regulations by local merchants, restaurants, and individuals, and reveal public attitudes toward U.S. participation in World War I and governmental control of the economy. The records include correspondence and reports.

Finding Aids

  • Handbook of Federal World War Agencies and Their Records, 1917-1921 (1943).
  • Almon B. Wright, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States Food
    Administration, 1917-1920, Pt.1: The Headquarters Organization, PI 3 (1943).


Record Group 5
Records of the U.S. Grain Corporation

Administrative History
The Grain Corporation, an agency of the U.S. Food Administration, was created on August  4,1917. On July 1, 1919, the Corporation was reorganized as the U.S. Grain Corporation,  which continued the functions and organizational structure of its predecessor. The central office of both agencies was located in New York City, with zone offices throughout the country, and by 1919, in Europe. The main functions of the Corporations were to regulate the grain trade by  purchasing, storing, and selling grain and grain products and, in cooperation with the War Trade Board, to control grain imports and exports. They played a significant role in the administration of American food relief for Europe after World War I. At various times between 1918 and 1922, the Corporation served as the fiscal and/or purchasing agent for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the American Relief Administration, and the Purchasing Commission for Russian Relief. The U.S. Grain Corporation had been in the process of liquidation for several years when it was abolished by an Executive order of December 31, 1927.

The Corporation assigned a vice president to each of the 14 grain zones, which were located in important grain terminal and seaboard markets.

Records Description
Dates: 1918-1920
Volume: 5 cubic feet
Records of the Salt Lake City Office, Kansas City Zone Agency. The records document the office's regulatory functions, including the purchase and storage of grain. Included are accounting records, bulletins, circulars, correspondence, memorandums, and minutes of meetings.


Record Group 9
Records of the National Recovery Administration

Administrative History
The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was created by an Executive order of June 16, 1933, to rehabilitate industry and trade in the United States, expand employment, and improve labor conditions. The NRA drafted codes of fair competition to govern industries and trades. The Administration created district recovery and local compliance boards. In January 1934, a system of State compliance offices reporting directly to the Compliance Division in Washington, DC, superseded the district offices. Many of the State offices set up branches with a resident field adjuster in charge. A regional office system was established on December 28, 1934, by authority of Field Letter #190.

The 1935 Supreme Court decision in "Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S." declared many provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. After this decision NRA activities were confined to promoting industrial cooperation and preparing a series of economic studies. On January 1, 1936, the NRA was terminated, with most of its divisions transferred to the Department of Commerce for liquidation by April 1, 1936. The field offices were terminated on January 31, 1936.

Records Description
Dates: 1934-1935
Volume: 2 cubic feet
Records of Region VII, consisting of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The records document enforcement policies and procedures. They include a city/town index for Colorado, complaint control cards, and docket cards.

Finding Aids

  • Entries 564 and 565 of Homer Calkin, Meyer Fishbein, and Leo Pascal, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the National Recovery Administration, PI 44 (1952).
  • Calkin and Fishbein, comps., Special List of Documents in the Records of the National Recovery Administration, SL 12 (1954).


Record Group 15
Records of the Veterans Administration

Administrative History
The present Veterans Administration (VA) is the result of policies and programs that date back to the American Revolution. In 1789, the First Congress enacted legislation to continue paying pensions provided in acts of the Continental Congress. An act of August 9, 1921, created the Veterans' Bureau which became part of the Veterans Administration established by an Executive order of July 21, 1930. The VA became the Department of Veterans Affairs effective March 15, 1989.

In the field, the VA and its predecessors have operated a network of facilities intended to aid veterans, including hospitals and rehabilitation centers, as well as national homes for veterans. One of the predecessors of the VA, the Federal Board for Vocational Education, divided the country into 14 districts in 1918. These districts were combined with relevant Public Health Service offices in 1921 to form the district offices of the Veterans' Bureau. These were succeeded by 54 regional offices of the Bureau in 1924 and 1925.

Records Description
Dates: 1862-1934
Volume: 13 cubic feet
Records of the District 11 Office (Denver) of the Rehabilitation Division. The records document training and employment of veterans in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and the administration of the district office. Included are correspondence, memorandums, and reports.

Records of the regional office, Albuquerque. The records document the training of disabled veterans and include correspondence and reports.

Records of Battle Mountain Sanitarium, Hot Springs, South Dakota. The records concern the admission of veterans to the sanitarium and their subsequent treatment. They are case files.

Records of the Santa Fe Cemetery, New Mexico. The record documents interments and is a register.

Finding Aids

  • Entry 16 in Preliminary Checklist of the General Administrative Files of the Rehabilitation Division, PC 15 (1944).
  • Entries 20 and 21 in Evelyn Wade, comp., Preliminary Inventory of Records of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and the National Homes Service of the Veterans Administration, NM 29 (1964).


Record Group 18
Records of the Army Air Forces

Administrative History
The Army Air Forces (AAF) originated August 1, 1907, as the Aeronautical Division in he Office of the Chief Signal Officer. After various reorganizations and name changes, the Army Air Forces was established on March 9, 1942, under the Secretary of War and the War Department General Staff. It served as the primary land-based air arm of the American armed forces until it was detached from the Army and became the U.S. Air Force in 1947.

Until the onset of World War II, most field installations of the Army Air Forces and its predecessors, such as airfields, schools, and administrative agencies, were located within the borders of the United States and its territories.

Records Description
Dates: 1917-18, 1937-39
Volume: 17 cubic feet
Records of Lowry Field, Denver, including the following units:
Armament Detachment;
Aviation Examination Board;
Photographic Detachment;
Special Branch--Air Corps Technical School.
The records document the administration of technical units at Lowry Field. They are primarily correspondence, rosters, and special orders. Nontextual records include photographs.

Finding Aids

  • Maizie H. Johnson, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the Army Air Forces, NM 53 (1965).
  • Sarah D. Powell and Maizie H. Johnson, comps., Supplement to Preliminary Inventory NM 53, Textual Records of the Army Air Force, NM 90 (1967).


Record Group 21
Records of District Courts of the United States

Administrative History
U.S. district and circuit courts were created by the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. The jurisdiction and powers of these federal courts have varied with subsequent legislation, but district courts generally have had original jurisdiction in admiralty and bankruptcy cases, suits for penalties or seizures under federal laws, noncapital criminal proceedings, and suits exceeding $100 in value in which the United States was the plaintiff. The circuit courts heard appeals from the district courts and had original jurisdiction over actions involving aliens or citizens of different states and law and equity suits where the matter in dispute exceeded $500. In 1891, the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit courts was transferred to the newly created circuit courts of appeals (see RG 276). The Judiciary Act of 1911 abolished the circuit courts and provided for the transfer of their records and remaining jurisdiction to the district courts.

Most states initially had one district and one circuit court with additional districts created as the business of the courts increased. Many of the districts were divided into divisions with the court holding session in various cities within the district. In 1812, circuit courts were authorized to appoint U.S. commissioners to assist in taking of bail and affidavits. The Commissioners' functions were expanded by subsequent legislation and court rules, and their powers have included authority to issue arrest warrants, examine persons charged with offenses against Federal laws, initiate actions in admiralty matters, and institute proceedings for violation of civil rights legislation.

Territorial district courts generally were established by the organic act that created the territory and had jurisdiction over federal civil, criminal, and bankruptcy actions as well as civil and criminal jurisdiction similar to that of state courts. Records created by a territorial court acting in its capacity as a Federal court often became the property of the federal district court upon statehood.

Records Description
Dates: 1847-1995
Volume: 17,408 cubic feet
Records of the following federal district and circuit courts:

  • Colorado, 1861-1989;
  • Montana, 1920-96;
  • New Mexico, 1848-1989;
  • North Dakota/Dakota Territory, 1868-1945;
  • Utah, 1870-1969;
  • Wyoming, 1888-1969.

The records document the actions of federal district and circuit courts, which have jurisdiction over bankruptcy, civil (law and equity), criminal, and naturalization actions. Among "general topics" covered are biography, civil rights, commerce and corporate history, demographics, genealogy, immigration and ethnic groups, the impact of federal regulatory programs, judicial administration, labor relations and union activity, and state and local political activity.

Among specific topics covered are collection of debts, enforcement of contracts, claims for damages, counterfeiting, smuggling, European immigration and the exclusion and deportation of Chinese, the illegal sale or manufacturing of alcoholic beverages, patent and copyright infringement, interstate transfer of stolen property, theft or assault on federal property.

The records are primarily case files--papers in a specific case filed by attorneys or issued by the court, such as affidavits, complaints, depositions, indictments, judgments or final decrees, motions, petitions, subpoenas, and writs. Bankruptcy case files also contain petitions of creditors and schedules of assets and liabilities. Exhibits and transcripts of proceedings are rarely included. There are also docket books--bound summaries of proceedings in each case, including a brief abstract of motions and orders, a record of fees collected, and a statement of the disposition of the case; minute books and journals--daily chronological records of court proceedings, often including information about financial accounts and the collection of fees, lists of jury members, names of attorneys admitted to practice, and the text of orders appointing court officials; naturalization papers--declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, depositions, and certificates of naturalization; order or judgment books--the text of each order or judgment and a record of the amount of monetary judgment; record of proceedings (only for U.S. commissioners)--include the name of defendant, the nature of the charge, the actions taken, and the disposition of the case. Nontextual records include drawings, maps, photographs, and posters.

Please Note: Bankruptcy Case Files previously held at NARA Denver have been moved to the Subtropolis facility in Kansas City. Please contact for more information.

Finding Aids

  • Draft inventories for each court.
  • Minute, docket, and order books often have indexes to the names of the parties involved in the proceedings. There is no cumulative index by subject, case name, or other access point. Records for a case can usually be located by case number and name of the court. The number can sometimes be determined from indexes in minute, docket or order books but these are not available for all courts. Additional information is sometimes available from the clerk of the court involved.
  • For Colorado and New Mexico naturalizations: partial indices.

Related Microfilm Publications
M1192, Naturalization Records Created by U.S. District Courts in Colorado, 1877-1952;
M1236, Indexes to Naturalization Records of the Montana Territorial and Federal Courts, 1868-1929;
M1538, Naturalization Records of the U.S. District Courts for the State of Montana, 1891-1929;
M1401, Territorial Case Files of the U.S. District Courts of Utah, 1870-1896.


Record Group 22
Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Administrative History
The Fish and Wildlife Service was formed on June 30, 1940, by merging the Bureau of Fisheries (established in 1903) with the Bureau of Biological Survey (established in 1885). The service is responsible for administering Federal laws for the control and conservation of fish, game, birds, and other wildlife and administering national wildlife refuges.

Records Description
Dates: 1935-1995
Volume: 34 cubic feet
Records of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Albuquerque. The records document the bureau's efforts to support and improve sport fishing resources in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. They include publications, technical studies, and weekly narrative reports.

Records of the Central Utah Project, Salt Lake City. The records document the location, operation, and scope of proposed project areas and the work of the National Water Assessment Study Team. Included are administrative and budget files, correspondence, final summaries, and project authorizations.

Records of Region 6 headquarters, Denver. The records document the operation and administration of fish hatcheries, lakes, and wildlife refuges in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Alberta, Canada. The nontextual records are photographs and survey plats.

Finding Aids
Draft inventory.


Record Group 25
Records of the National Labor Relations Board

Administrative History
The present National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was created by the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act) of July 5, 1935. It was preceded by two earlier boards: the National Labor Board (NLB), established August 5, 1933, and a first NLRB, established on June 19, 1934. As the functions of the NLB and the first NLRB were closely tied to the mission of the National Recovery Administration (NRA), when the NRA was declared unconstitutional on May 27, 1935, the first NLRB virtually ceased to function.

The Wagner Act created the second (present) NLRB, which was to determine the unit of employees appropriate for collective bargaining, conduct elections for employee representatives, and force employers to end specified unfair labor practices in industries other than the railroads and, after 1936, the airlines. The functions of the NLRB have subsequently been modified by the War Labor Disputes Act of June 25, 1943, the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (the Taft-Hartley Act), and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (the Landrum-Griffin Act). All three boards utilized a system of regional boards to deal with labor controversies in the field.

Records Description
Dates: 1935-1937
Volume: 3 cubic feet
Records of the District XIV Regional Labor Board, Denver. The records document the board's activities. Included are bulletins, correspondence, memorandums, press clippings, and reports.

Finding Aid
Box contents list.


Record Group 27
Records of the Weather Bureau
Administrative History
The Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress of October 1, 1890, in the Department of Agriculture. It took over the Weather Service that had been established in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer of the War Department in 1870. The Bureau was transferred to the Department of Commerce in 1940. In 1965, the Bureau was consolidated with the Coast and Geodetic Survey to form the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA). When ESSA was abolished in 1970, the Weather Bureau, now renamed the National Weather Service, was incorporated into the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Records Description
Dates: 1876-1907
Volume: 3 cubic feet
Records of the weather station, Fort Yates, Dakota Territory. The records document the station's administrative and functional operations and include annual reports, correspondence, personnel matters, supply requisitions, and records of weather data transmissions.

Records of weather stations in New Mexico, and Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The records document cloud, weather, and wind conditions and are bound volumes.

Finding Aids
Helen T. Finneran, comp., Preliminary Inventory of Operational and Miscellaneous Meteorological Records of the Weather Bureau, NC 3 (1965).

Related Microfilm Publications
M1379, Selected Documents From the Records of the Weather Bureau Relating to New Orleans, 1870-1912;
T907, Climatological Records of the Weather Bureau, 1819-1892.


Record Group 28
Records of the Post Office Department

Administrative History:

The Post Office Department and the Postal Service were established as an independent agency by an act of February 20, 1792, to provide mail processing and services to individuals and businesses within the United States.  It was abolished effective July 1, 1971 by the Postal Reorganization Act and its functions were transferred to the U.S. Postal Service.

Records Description
Dates: 1889, 1967-1981
Volume: 3 cubic feet

  • Postmaster Applications Certificates, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1889;
  • Cash Books, Louviers, Colorado, 1957-81.

Finding Aids

Preliminary Inventory to the Records of the Post Office Department, PI 168 (1967).


Record Group 30
Records of the Bureau of Public Roads

Administrative History
The Bureau of Public Roads had its origins in an act of March 3, 1893, which authorized the creation of an Office of Road Inquiry in the Department of Agriculture. After a number of changes in title, the Office became the Bureau of Public Roads in 1918 and retained that designation until 1939 when it became the Public Roads Administration as part of the Federal Works Agency. On July 1, 1949, it was transferred to the General Services Administration and renamed the Bureau of Public Roads, which was then transferred to the Department of Commerce by Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1949. An act of October 15, 1966, transferred the Bureau to the Department of Transportation where its functions were assigned to the Federal Highway Administration (see RG 406).

Under the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, the Bureau has supervised federal-state cooperative programs for road construction, reconstruction, and improvement. It also administers the highway beautification program and is responsible for developing and administering highway safety programs, constructing defense highways and roads in national parks and forests, expanding the interstate highway system, and providing assistance to foreign governments.

Records Description
Dates: 1916-71
Volume: 173 cubic feet
Records of the following offices:

  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Helena, Montana
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

The records document the funding and construction of roads, including interstate highways, throughout the Rocky Mountain and Southwest region. They include budgets, plans, reports, and specifications. Nontextual records include right-of-way maps and photographs.

Finding Aid
Truman R. Strobridge, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, PI 134 (1962).


Record Group 36
Records of the United States Custom Service

Administrative History
Established as the Customs Service in 1789, and became the Bureau of Customs in 1927. The Customs Service assesses and collects fees and penalties, and intercepts and seizes contraband. It processes persons, carriers, cargo, and mail into and out of the United States, and administers navigation and customs law, enforces export laws, cooperates with other federal agencies and foreign governments in suppressing illegal traffic, and collects international trade statistics.

Records Description
Dates: 1878-1989
Volume: 21 cubic feet
Records of the Great Falls (MT) Collection District, and Enforcement Offices in El Paso and Alpine (TX) and Albuquerque, NM.  The records include vessel conveyance and documentation, payments of salary, transportation bonds, letters sent and received, import books, records of entrance and clearance of foreign vessels, foreign manifests, entries for warehousing and withdrawals, liquidations, bonds, records of money, abstracts of licenses issued, accounts of receipts and disbursements, duties of goods withdrawn, registers of transports and exports to Canada, impost books, invoices and appraisals, and case files relating to investigations of neutrality violations.

Finding Aid
Preliminary Inventory of the Bureau of Customs, NC 154 (1968).


Record Group 40
Records of the Department of Commerce

Administrative History
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration was established initially (as the Telecommunications Advisor to the President) in the Executive Office of the President in 1951, and transferred to the Department of Commerce in 1967. It supports the development, growth, and regulation of telecommunications, information, and related industries. It provides policy and management for the use of electromagnetic spectrum, and provides telecommunications facilities grants to public service users.

Records Description
Dates: 1948-1966
Volume: 15 cubic feet
Records of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Boulder, Colorado, consisting of conference and symposium papers, agendas, and reports of High Frequency Broadcasting Conferences, Consultive Committee on International Radio, Professional Technical Group on Antennas and Propagation, and others.

Finding Aid


Record Group 48
Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior

Administrative History
The Department of the Interior was created by an act of March 3, 1849. During the more than 130 years of its existence some functions have been added and others removed so that its role has changed from that of general housekeeper for the Federal Government to that of custodian of the nation's natural resources. The Secretary of the Interior, as the head of an executive department, reports directly to the President and is responsible for the direction and supervision of all activities of the Department.

Records Description
Dates: 1967-1981
Volume: 24 cubic feet
Records of the office of the Solicitor in Billings, Montana and Denver, Colorado. The records document precedent-setting cases. The records are case files including briefs, correspondence, court decisions, memorandums, and research papers.

Finding Aid
Box contents lists for some records.


Record Group 49
Records of the Bureau of Land Management

Administrative History
The General Land Office (GLO) was established within the Department of the Treasury by an act of April 25, 1812, to administer all public land transactions except surveying and map work (which came under the supervision of the GLO in 1836). In 1849, the GLO was transferred to the Department of the Interior where it was merged with the Grazing Service in 1946 to form the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau classifies, manages, and disposes of public lands and their resources and administers federally-owned mineral resources on non-federal land and on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Records Description
Dates: 1854-1993
Volume: 12,650 cubic feet
Records of surveyors general for Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming and of the Supervisor of Surveys, ca. 1860-1960. The records document surveys of the public domain prior to its opening for settlement. Included are correspondence, connected sheets, group survey files, location certificates, mineral survey case files, mineral survey field notes (Colorado only), survey contracts and bonds, and administrative records. Nontextual records include survey plats.

Records of the district (local) land offices in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, ca. 1860-1960. The records document entries upon the public domain and the process of transferring title from the Federal Government to the entryman. Included are abstract books, administrative records, correspondence, canceled land entry case files, serial registers, and tract books.

Records of the Grazing Division, U.S. Grazing Service, and district grazing offices in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, ca. 1935-1976. The records document the establishment and administration of grazing districts, and the range improvement activities of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps. The records include advisory board minutes, camp reports and administrative records, correspondence, and hearings and appeals.

Records of State and regional offices for Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, ca. 1946-1992. The records document the administrative and program activities of the offices and include cooperative agreements, reports, correspondence, river basin studies, land acquisition case files, and land use case files.

Finding Aid
Harry P. Yoshpe and Philip P. Brower, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Land-Entry Papers of the General Land Office, PI 22 (1949).

Related Microfilm Publications
M25, Miscellaneous Letters Sent by the General Land Office, 1796-1889;
M27, Letters Sent by the General Land Office to Surveyors General, 1796-1901.