Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 9: Records of the Committee on Education, 1883-1946

Chapter 9. Records of the Committees on Education and Labor

Table of Contents

Records of Committees Relating to Claims 1794-1946 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committees discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Education and Labor, 1867-1883

History and Jurisdiction

9.5. The Committee on Education and Labor was created in 1867 and functioned until 1883, when its jurisdiction was split between a committee on education and a committee on labor.

9.6. The committee's jurisdiction included all legislation concerning education and labor. The committee considered legislation concerning educational institutions, such as agricultural colleges; the education of certain classes of citizens, such as freedmen and orphans; special educational needs in regions and areas of the country; other educational issues at the national level; the conditions of labor in the United States; labor organizations; competition in the labor market; and other labor-related topics. Many activities of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau) fell under its jurisdiction.

Records of the Committee on Education and Labor, 40th-48th Congresses (1867-1883)


Record TypeVolumeDates (Congresses)
Minute Books2 volumes1869-73 (41st-42d)
Docket Books1 volume1869-71 (41st)
Petitions and Memorials19 inches1867-69 (40th), 1877-83 (45th-47th), 1871-75 (42d-43d), 1877-83 (45th-47th)
Committee Papers2 inches1871-75 (42d-43d),
1877-81 (45th-46th)
Total volume1 foot 9 inches and 3 vols. (3 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table

9.7. The records of this committee are sparse and were preserved only sporadically. There is a minute book that contains the minutes of most of the committee meetings during the 41st and 42d Congresses. The minutes from part of the 2d session of the 41st Congress (Apr. 7 through June 29, 1870) are bound separately and consist of the proceedings of the committee during the investigation of charges against Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard, Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau). The docket book from the 41st Congress lists all the bills, resolutions, petitions and memorials, and other documents that were referred to the committee and contains several lists of national and international workmen's organizations, their officers, and newspapers published by these organizations.

9.8. Petitions and memorials (19 in.) make up the bulk of the unpublished records of the committee that have been preserved. The records demonstrate the interest of the public in both major jurisdictional areas of the committee and include a wide range of suggestions for policy improvements.

9.9. On educational matters, the petitions suggest a variety of ways that the Federal Government could support the educational needs of the nation: the establishment of a school for war orphans in East Tennessee (40A-H5.1), the use of unclaimed refunds from a cotton tax for educational purposes (45A-H8.11), aid to the education of the blind (45A-H8.2), the use of part of "colored" soldiers' bounties for the improvement of "colored" schools (46A-H8.1), the creation of a national commission on spelling reform (46A-H8.1), and Federal aid to States and territories on a basis of literacy (47A-H7.1). The largest number of education-related petitions were received during the Congress of 1877-79 from an organized petition drive that suggested the proceeds from the sale of public lands be distributed for use in educational purposes (45A-H8.6, 7 in.).

9.10. Petitions and memorials relating to labor include demands for the establishment of a labor statistics bureau (46A-H8.1), the incorporation of the Iron Workers of America (45A-H8.7), and the prohibition of Chinese immigration (45A-H8.9, 46A-H8.1). The largest collection of labor-related petitions from this committee were from an organized petition drive between 1877 and 1881 demanding extension of the 8-hour workday law, which applied only to certain government laborers (45A-H8.8, 46A- H8.1, 11 in. total).

9.11. Committee papers contain copies of bills and resolutions referred to the committee as well as correspondence and documents relating to the subjects in its jurisdiction. The records include resolutions adopted by the National Educational Association in 1874: Favoring local control of education; supporting both the idea of a federal department of education to gather and distribute information and the use of revenues from the sale of public lands for educational purposes; and suggesting that Federal aid be provided for education in the District of Columbia (43A-F9.2). There are also an 1877 report prepared by the American Social Science Association on the need for special schools, referred to as "developing schools," to teach the trades (45A-F9.1); the Report on Capital and Labor published in Philadelphia in 1873 by the Committee on Industrial Interests and Labor (42A-F8.2); and letters and documents received from other organizations and individuals. The committee papers from the 42d Congress (1871-73) include a file on the subject of granting aid to the American Printing House and the University for the Blind (42A-F8.1, 1 in.); the file contains petitions, memorials, correspondence, a draft of a bill (H.R. 2558) that was prepared by what would today be called a lobbyist, and comprehensive briefs prepared by advocates and opponents of the bill.

Table of Contents

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.