Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 11: War Department

Chapter 11. Records of the Government Operations Committee and Its Predecessors

Table of Contents

Records of the Government Operations Committee and Its Predecessors, 1814-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committees discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department (1816-1927)

11.47 The earliest records are from the 16th Congress (1819-21).

Record TypeVolumeDates (Congresses)
Minute Books and Unbound Minutes1 volume and 1 inch1839-41 (26th), 1881-83 (47th) 1885-87 (49th) 1925-27 (69th)
Docket Books2 volumes1885-87 (49th), 1907-09 (60th)
Petitions and Memorials1 inch1863-65 (38th), 1887-89 (50th)
Committee Papers25 feet1819-23 (16th-17th), 1831-33 (22d), 1837-43 (25th-27th), 1859-61 (36th), 1875-81 (44th-46th), 1885-87 (49th), 1895-1903 (54th-57th), 1907-99 (60th-61st), 1913-1915 (63rd), 1919-27 (66th-69th)
Total volume25 ft. and 3 vols. (2 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table

11.48 In addition to the minute book some unbound minutes are among the committee papers. These cover committee meetings held during January and February 1840 (26A-D8.1), February through June 1882 (47A-F11.3) and, on May 10, 1926 (69A-F17.2).

11.49 Only a few petitions and memorials exist for this committee. Among them is a 1864 petition from a Washington, DC, resident complaining about mismanagement of the Military Storekeeping Department in the District (38A-G6.1) and several 1888 petitions regarding the establishment of a National Bureau of Harbors and Water Works under the War Department (50A-H9.1).

11.50 Forms used to certify the inspection of money accounts of Army disbursing officers, for 1877-1914 (with a few gaps) and 1921-1924 constitute the majority of the committee papers; they provide detailed accountings of Army expenses. However, a sizable portion of the committee papers concerns examinations of specific and contingent War Department expenditures, and a substantial quantity of the material documents various financial activities of the War Department. Included are records concerning outstanding checks issued by Army disbursing officers during the years 1892 to 1899; abstracts of articles and services purchased for the Army, 1886-1894; and lists of contracts made by the War Department and its bureaus, 1886-1894.

11.51 Records relating to investigations are also contained in the committee papers. Typical are documents concerning an 1860 investigation to determine why an 1852 contract for marble columns for the Capitol extension had not been completed (36A-D9.1), an 1876 inquiry into the payments for publishing The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. (44A-F15.1), and an 1878 investigation into the financial activities of the chief inspector of clothing at the quartermaster's depot in Philadelphia (45A-F14.1). Also included in the committee papers are records relating to efforts in 1878 to reduce the clerical force in the War Department (46A-F14.1) and an 1842 printed report on extra pay to compensate Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott for services rendered in the 1838 Cherokee removal (27A-D7.1).

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.