The National Archives at Fort Worth

Records of the National Recovery Administration Region VIII| Series List

Records Available at the National Archives at Fort Worth

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was the first of several agencies to be established under the authority of the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933. Its purpose was to rehabilitate industry and trade in the United States, expand employment, and improve labor conditions. Special codes of fair competition were drafted under its supervision to govern industries and trades, and a "blanket code,” the President’s reemployment agreement, was offered for voluntary acceptance by employers pending approval of specific codes. Codes for specific industries were developed that incorporated those objectives as well as the right of employees to engage in collective bargaining and the prevention of unfair competition between employers On May 27, 1935, all mandatory codes were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. After this decision, the NRA was confined to promoting industrial cooperation and preparing a series of economic studies. Most of the NRA’s functions were transferred to the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor by Executive order on January 1, 1936.

Shortly after the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act the 26 district offices of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce assumed the publicity and compliance functions of the NRA in the field. With the rapid expansion of NRA activities following the issuance of the “blanket code” district recovery boards were established to report on the progress of the execution of the act and local compliance boards were appointed to investigate and adjust cases of alleged noncompliance with the agreement. In January 1934, a system of State compliance offices reporting directly to the NRA Compliance Division in Washington replaced the district offices. Each State office had a director who also served as State Director of the National Emergency Council, a labor compliance officer, a trade-practice compliance officer, a legal advisor, and an executive officer. Field adjusters were employed to investigate alleged violations and attempt to bring about voluntary promises of future compliance and restitution of money to employees. Many states set up branch offices with a resident field adjuster in charge. Each State office had an unpaid adjustment board, composed of equal numbers of labor and management representatives, with an impartial chairman, to advise the director on the disposition of cases referred to the board.

The organization of the regional offices remained substantially unchanged until the Supreme Court declared mandatory codes unconstitutional in May, 1935.  At that time, the elaborate compliance and enforcement procedures were abolished and activities of the regional staff were limited to preparing special studies relating to the operation of the NRA in the field, investigating deviations from code standards, surveying business conditions, and persuading industry to voluntarily comply with code standards. The regional directors and State NRA officers (formerly State compliance officers) had a small staff of attorneys, field investigators (formerly field adjusters), clerks, and stenographers. In some regions the former members of the regional councils remained for a time to advise the regional director on matters relating to voluntary compliance with code standards. The entire field establishment was discontinued in January, 1936.

The NRA is mentioned prominently in virtually every book that deals with the Great Depression in the United States. See David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (New York, 1999).

This inventory covers the 12 cubic feet of records of Region VIII of the NRA that were transferred from the National Archives in Washington to the National Archives at Fort Worth in 1990. Region VIII included the states of Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas and had its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. For a complete description of NRA records, see Homer L. Calkin, Meyer H. Fishbein, and Leo Pascal, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the National Recovery Administration PI 44 (Washington, 1952); and Calkin and Fishbein, comps., Select List of Documents in the Records of the National Recovery Administration, SL 12 (Washington, 1954).