Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 12: Committee on Accounts

Chapter 12. Records of the Administration Committee and Its Predecessors

Table of Contents

Records of the House Administration Committee and Its Predecessors from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committees discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Accounts (1803-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.30 The Committee on Accounts was created on December 27, 1803, and was made a standing committee in 1805. Its jurisdiction covered all subjects "touching the expenditure of the contingent fund of the House, [and] the auditing and settling of all accounts which may be charged therein to the House." In addition, the committee was responsible for the accountability of officers of the House, the procurement of rooms for the use of House committees and for the Speaker, and for recommending and authorizing the employment of such persons as stenographers, reporters of debates, janitors, and clerks and staff assistants for committees, members and senators. In 1911 the functions of the Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics were transferred to the Committee on Accounts, and in 1927 the functions of the Committee on Mileage were similarly transferred.

Records of the Committee on Accounts, 8th-79th Congresses (1803-1946)


Record TypeVolumeCongresses (Dates)
Minute Books 17 volumes 27th-33d (1841-55), 35th-39th (1857-67), 41st-60th (1869-1909), 77th-79th (1941-46)
Docket Books 8 volumes 48th-49th (1883-87), 51st-56th (1889-1901)
Other bound volumes 15 volumes 9th-27th (1805-41), 40th (1867-69), 44th-52d (1875-93), 54th-56th (1895-1901), 59th-61st (1905-11), 47th-56th (1881-1901)
Petitions and Memorials 4 inches 10th (1807-09), 16TH (1819-21), 20TH (1827-29), 22D (1831-33), 27TH-28TH (1841-45), 31st (1849-51), 33d (1853-55), 45th-49th (1877-79)
Committee Papers 51 feet 11th-12th (1809-13), 14th-17th (1815-19), 19th-20th (1825-29), 22d (1831-33), 24th-61st (1835-1911), 75th (1937-38), 77th (1941-42), 79th (1945-46)
Bill Files 1 foot 74th-79th (1935-46)
Total 5 ft. 7 in. and 40 vols. (3 ft., 4 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table

12.31 Minutes of committee meetings record topics of discussion and resolutions approving expenditures, authorizing payment of accounts, or initiating investigations or studies. Other bound volumes designated as Accounts Audited, Contingent Fund, Day Book, Ledger of Expenses of Committees, or Statement of Accounts, were used variously by the committee in the discharge of its duties. These volumes record committee action on expenditures from the contingent fund accounts and may have entries arranged by date, by committee or office, or by the docket order in which the committee reviewed them.

12.32 Committee papers, petitions and memorials, and bill files (papers accompanying specific bills and resolutions) are sparse for this committee. For most Congresses the papers consist primarily of House resolutions requesting approval of proposed expenditures, or resolutions requesting that the Accounts Committee conduct an investigation.

12.33 Petitions and memorials referred to the committee generally are from employees of the House asking for payment for services rendered, such as the petition of Charles Shirley asking for payment as messenger in the south wing of the Capitol between 1856 and 1857 (38A-G1).

12.34 More than half the total volume of committee papers are from the 1943-46 period (78A-F1, 79A-F1) and consist of files of correspondence between the committee and other committees and officers of the House. There is a similar file (40A-F1) containing the 1877-79 committee correspondence. Other significant records concern an 1869-71 investigation of malfeasance of the Sergeant at Arms (40A-F1) and records and hearings from an 1875-77 investigation of procedures in the House folding room (44A-F1).

12.35 The records of the committee are closely related to those of the Clerk of the House, whose expenditures from the contingent fund the committee audited. Bound volumes from the Office of the Clerk, variously titled Clerk's Account Book, Clerk's Ledger, Clerk's Day Book, Disbursements of the Clerk, Contingent Account, Newspaper Accounts, Stationary Accounts, and Contingent Expenditures, contain records of the itemized expenditures from the contingent fund. These appear irregularly, generally, 2 to 4 volumes per Congress. Much of the material from the Office of the Clerk is published in the Congressional Serial Set.

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.