Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 12

Records of the House Administration Committee and Its Predecessors

Committees discussed in this chapter:


12.1 The House Administration Committee was established in 1947 under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. It superseded ten standing committees, assuming the jurisdictions and functions of some of the oldest and longest standing committees of the House. This chapter discusses the records of the House Administration Committee and those of the committees whose functions it inherited.

12.2 Although most of the committees had legislative jurisdictions, they all performed important administrative functions for the House. The Elections Committees (1789-1947) performed the constitutionally mandated function of judging the "elections, returns, and qualifications" of House Members. The Accounts Committee (1803-1947) approved, audited, and settled the accounts of the contingent fund of the House. The Mileage Committee (1837-1927) ascertained the mileage traveled by Members to Congress for the purpose of remuneration. The Ventilation and Acoustics Committee (1893-1911) studied and reported legislation relating to the uncomfortable and unhealthy conditions in the chamber in which the House met, and the Memorials Committee (1929-47) made arrangements for a memorial day for Members who had died recently. The Committee on the Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress had jurisdiction over Federal elections including the actual counting of the electoral vote in the Senate and House.

12.3 The Committee on Enrolled Bills (1876-1947), successor to the Joint Committee on Enrolled Bills (1789-1876), was charged with assuring that identically worded legislation was passed by the House and Senate, and that correctly enrolled bills arrived at the White House ready for the President's signature. The Committee on Engraving (1844-60) monitored the engraving and printing of maps for Congress, a function that was later performed by the Printing Committee (1846-1947), which reported legislation controlling all publication by Congress. The Library Committee (1806-1947) managed the affairs of the Library of Congress, the funding of memorial projects, and all subjects relating to art and aesthetics. The Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers (1889-1947) approved the disposition of governmental records.

12.4 The records of the Committees on the Library, on Printing, and on the Disposition of Executive Papers present unique research problems. Each of these committees consisted of the House Members of a joint committee. The joint committees were created by statute, and the House membership of each was recognized by House Rules as a standing committee. The Senate membership comprised a standing committee in the Senate. For the most part, the House and Senate standing committees performed legislative functions, while the two portions acting together—the joint committee—performed administrative functions.

12.5 To further complicate research in the records of these committees, the House and Senate portions of the joint committees each preserved its own records. There are, for instance, four sets of Library Committee records: records of a House standing committee (RG 233), records of a Senate standing committee (RG 46), records of the House Joint Committee (RG 128),and records of the Senate Joint Committee (RG 128).

12.6 The functions and jurisdictions of all of the above House committees were incorporated into the House Administration Committee under the 1946 Reorganization Act.

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Records of Committee on Elections (1789-1895) and Committees #1, #2, and #3 on Elections (1895-1946)

Jurisdiction and History

12.7 Article 1, section 5, of the Constitution of the United States specifies: "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own Members." The Committee on Elections was established as the first standing committee of the House to perform this function on April 13, 1789, just two weeks after the first quorum allowed the House of Representatives to organize itself. Rule number 7 of the first rules adopted by the House of Representatives specifies the character and jurisdiction of the committee:

  • 7. A standing Committee on Elections shall be appointed, to consist of seven members, it shall be the duty of the said committee to examine and report upon the certificates of election, or other credentials of the members returned to serve in this House, and to take into their consideration all such matters as shall or may come in question, and be referred to them by the House, touching returns and elections, and to report their proceedings, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.1

12.8 From 1789 until the mid-19th century the number of contested election cases remained stable at an average of three per Congress. After the 34th Congress (1855-57) the number of contested seats rose sporadically to a peak of 38 during the 54th Congress (1895-97). In 1895, due to the increase in workload, the committee was split into three separate committees: Elections #1, Elections #2, and Elections #3. After 1935 the number of contested elections returned to an average of three per Congress, and in l947 the three Elections Committees were abolished and their jurisdiction included in that of the new House Administration Committee.

Records of the four Committees on Elections, 1st-79th Congresses (1789-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 38 volumes 29th-31st (1845-51), 34th-40th (1855-69), 42d-47th (1871-83), 50th-51st (1887-91), 53d-62d (1893-1913), 66th-76th (1919-41)
Docket Books 20 volumes 47th (1881-83), 50th-55th (1887-99), 58th-62d (1903-13), 66th-67th (1919-23)
Petitions and Memorials 7 inches 9th (1805-07), 11th (1809-11), 17th (1821-23), 27th-29th (1841-47), 31st-36th (1849-61), 38th-39th (1863-67), 44th (1875-77), 47th (1881-83), 53d-54th (1893-97), 66th (1919-21)
274 feet 3d-5th (1793-99), 8th (1803-05), 10th-31st (1807-51), 33d-79th (1853-1946)
Bill Files 1 inch 67th-68th (1921-25), 71st (1929-31), 74th (1935-36)
Total 274 feet, 8 inches and 58 volumes (5 feet)  

12.9 The minute books provide documentation of the dates, attendance, and business conducted, at committee meetings. Several of the early minute volumes contain the minutes of several Congresses—the minute book for the 34th through 39th Congresses (1856-67), and the minute book for the 42d through 45th Congresses (1871-79), each contain over 300 handwritten pages. The docket books record the receipt of petitions, memorials, bills, resolutions, and various other papers. After 1895 when the single Elections Committee was split into three Elections Committees, there are separate minute and docket books for each of the committees.

12.10 The petitions and memorials relate primarily to the initiation of contested election cases, but they also include such documents as the credentials of election of delegates from New Mexico Territory and Deseret for 1849-51 (31A-G5), a large roll petition from citizens of California in 1857 demanding the expulsion of P.T. Herbert (34A-G5), and an appeal from citizens of South Carolina for a speedy decision on a contested seat for 1895-97 (54A-H10). Other petitions and memorials referred to the committee may be found in the committee papers files, as well as the petition and memorial files listed on the table above.

12.11 Committee papers, consisting primarily of evidence submitted in contested election cases, constitute the bulk of the documentation. Many of the case files, especially from the early Congresses, consist of an inch or less of loose papers. After the mid- 19th century, as the number of cases increased, the volume of material submitted as evidence also increased. This is reflected in the records of the period; for example, the 22 contest cases preserved from the 55th Congress (36 ft.) include over 7 feet on the case of Thorne v. Epes alone. The volume of records increases over time: 1st-40th Congresses (1789- 1869), 8 ft.; 41st-53d Congresses (1869-1895), 57 ft.; 54th-79th Congresses (1896-1946), 209 ft.

12.12 The Preliminary Inventory to the Records of the House of Representatives, 1798-1947, contains a detailed list of the records of case files from each Congress that are held by National Archives.

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Records of the Committee on the Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress (1893-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.13 The standing Committee on the Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress was established in 1893 with jurisdiction over legislation concerning the election of the officials enumerated in its title, including proposed changes to the Constitution that affected the terms of office of the named officials, the succession to the offices of the President and Vice President, the direct election of Senators, and the meeting times of Congress. The committee considered national election laws and their enforcement, including such topics as the disqualification of polygamists from election to Congress, the use of electric voting machines in congressional elections, the necessary and proper expenses related to nominations and elections, and the publication of campaign expenses. It was responsible for changes in the law regarding the electoral count and resolutions regulating the actual electoral vote count by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Records of the Committee on Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress, 53rd-79th Congresses (1893-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 17 volumes 53d (1893-95), 58th-72d (1903-33)
Docket Books 11 volumes 53d (1893-95), 55th-56th (1897-1901), 58th-64th (1903-17), 72d (1931-33)
Petitions and Memorials   1 foot 53d-54th (1893-97), 56th-60th (1899-1909), 68th (1923-25), 71st (1929-31), 78th (1934-44)
Committee Papers 3 feet 53d-72d (1893-1933), 74th-76th (1935-41), 78th-79th (1943-46)
Bill Files 1 foot 58th-59th (1903-07), 67th-71st (1921-31), 73d-74th (1933-36), 76th-79th (1939-46)
Total 5 feet and 28 volumes (2 ft.)   

12.14 Minute books from most of the period between the formation of the committee and 1933 document meetings of the committee, referrals to subcommittees and activity regarding legislation. The minutes indicate that the committee met infrequently and dealt with a limited number of issues when it did meet. The docket books record petitions, memorials, bills, resolutions, and other papers that were referred to the committee. A survey of the minute and docket books provides an idea of the subjects that were referred to the committee, such as the direct election of senators and woman suffrage.

12.15 Petition and memorial files are not extensive, with the exception of the 1943-44 file, which contains over 7 inches of petitions on wartime voting (78A- H4). The most frequent subject of petitions during the early years of the committee (1893-1909) was the direct election of Senators. The petition file for 1907-08 includes the resolutions of the legislatures of 11 individual states and a Joint Resolution from 27 States calling for a convention to amend the Constitution respecting the direct election of Senators (60A-H8). 12.16 The only large accumulation of committee papers concerns absentee balloting by servicemen (78A-F9) during the United States involvement in World War II. The committee papers contain printed bills, resolutions, reports, hearings, and correspondence. Several unpublished transcripts of hearings are included concerning such subjects as campaign contributions (60A-F9); a four-year term for Representatives (63A-F7); and a constitutional amendment regarding nomination and election procedures (67A-D7).

12.17 After the 57th Congress legislative bill files are separate from the committee papers. The bill files are not extensive, although the 1943-44 files are swollen by material on wartime voting legislation (78A-D8).

Related Records

12.18 Before the establishment of the standing committee election issues were dealt with by select committees appointed to handle particular situations or legislation. There are records for select committees on:

  • Privileges, Powers and Duties of Congress in Electoral Vote Counting, 1875-77 (44A-F39.2)
  • Recent Elections in Florida, 1875-77 (44A-F39.4)
  • Alleged Frauds in the Late Presidential Election, 1877-79 (45A-F37.1)
  • Law Respecting the Election of the President and Vice President, 1883-85 (48A-F44.1)
  • Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress, 1885-93 (49A- F39, 50A-F41, 51A-F44, 52A-F48)

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Records of the Committee on Enrolled Bills (1876-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

2.19 The House standing Committee on Enrolled Bills was a result of the dissolution of the old Joint Committee on Enrolled Bills. The Joint Committee on Enrolled Bills was established on July 27, 1789, with the responsibility for the enrollment of engrossed bills. The enacting resolution states the following:

  • After a bill shall have passed both Houses, it shall be duly enrolled on Parchment by the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate, as the bill may have originated in one or the other House, before it shall be presented to the President of the United States... When bills are enrolled they shall be examined by a joint committee for that purpose, who shall carefully compare the enrollment with the engrossed bills as passed in the two Houses, and, correcting any errors that may be discovered in the enrolled bills, make their report forthwith to their respective Houses.2

12.20 In 1876 the joint rules of Congress were allowed to lapse, and although the committee continued to be referred to as a "joint committee," it consisted thereafter of a separate committee in each house, each supervising the enrolling of bills originated in its own house. Under the Reorganization Act of 1946 the functions of the Committee on Enrolled Bills were incorporated into those of the House Administration Committee. The Joint Committee on Enrolled Bills has since that date been composed of three members from the House Administration Committee and three members from the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

Records of the Committee on Enrolled Bills, 44th-79th Congresses (1876-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Record or Enrollment Books   38 volumes 48th-56th (1883-1901), 64th-79th (1911-46)
Committee Papers 3 feet 61st (1909-11), 64th-65th (1915-19), 68th-79th (1923-46)
Total 3 feet and 38 volumes (6 ft.)   

12.21 The Record or Enrollment books kept by the committee list all House and Senate bills and resolutions and the date of the completion of each step in the enrollment process for each piece of legislation.

12.22 The committee papers contain White House receipts for enrolled bills delivered to the President, certificates of enrollment, lists of bills signed by the President, Secretary of the Senate signature receipts, and copies of the President's memoranda of disapproval.

Related Records

12.23 The Enrolled Bills that became law, with the signatures of the presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the President of the United States, are in Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress in the General Records of the United States Government, RG 11.

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Records of the Committee on the Library (1806-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.24 The standing Committee on the Library was composed of the House members of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress. Its jurisdiction included all legislation or matters touching on the Library of Congress, and statuary, pictures or works of art on the Capitol grounds.

Records of the Committee on the Library, 9th-79th Congresses (1806-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 22 volumes 50th-54th (1887-97), 56th-67th (1899-1923), 79th-77th (1927-42)
Docket Books 18 volumes 48th-63d (1885-1915), 65th-68th (1919-25)
Petitions and Memorials   2 feet 38th (1963-65), 42d (1871-73), 48th-50th (1883-89), 52d-55th (1891-99), 58th-67th (1903-23), 69th-71st (1925-31), 73d-79th (1933-46)
Committee Papers 8 feet 17th (1819-21), 19th (1825-27), 35th (1857-59), 48th-79th (1883-1946)
Bill Files 12 feet 58th-79th (1903-46)
Total 22 feet and 40 volumes (3 feet)   

12.25 The minute books that have been preserved for almost every Congress between 1887 and 1947 often contain only partial minutes. In most cases the docket books were kept more meticulously and provide more information regarding committee activity relating to specific legislation.

12.26 Although this committee usually was not the recipient of many petitions and memorials, particular subjects occasionally drew relatively large numbers. Examples are the 1895-97 question of whether a statue of Pere Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit, should be kept in Statuary Hall (54A-H18); the designation of a "day of National Prayer and Humiliation," 1917-19, (65A-H9); and the construction of a memorial to Franklin Roosevelt, 1945-46, (79A-F23).

12.27 Committee papers contain correspondence, documents submitted to the committee, reports of commissions and other bodies, and original reports of the committee. The committee papers before the 58th Congress generally contain less than 1 inch of records per Congress, much of which is related to bills and resolutions pending before the House. The file from 1887-89 (50A-F20) provides a representative sample of subjects: correspondence related to the purchase of Indian paintings by John Mix Stanley; the purchase of Erastus Thatcher's manuscript "History" of the District of Columbia; the preservation of the Confederate archives; the location of a new Library of Congress building; the purchase of several portraits; the erection of monuments and memorial bridges at various locations in the United States; the incorporation of the National Historical Society; the priority of the invention of the telegraph machine; the exchange of congressional documents with Canada and Chile; and resolutions of the Joint Commission on the Completion of the Washington Monument. After the 57th Congress "Papers Accompanying Specific Bills and Resolutions" or "bill files" are filed separately.

12.28 The volume of the committee papers increases significantly after the turn of the century. For this period there are records relating to: memorials; grave sites; portraits and paintings; the designation of a national flower and of a national anthem; the purchases of the tomb of George Washington (67A-F26) and of Monticello (67A-F26); monuments to the women of the Civil War (64A-D12); and funding proposals for various documentary publications (19A- D11, 61A-F31). Also included are large files for a 1930 bill authorizing the purchase of the Vollbehr Collection of Incunabula for the Library of Congress (71A-D18); a 1933-34 study of botanic gardens in the United States and other countries (73A-F18); and a 1937-38 report prepared for the commemoration of the DeSoto expedition of 1539 (75A-F24). The records also contain bills, resolutions and correspondence proposing recognition of persons of national importance such as George M. Cohan (73A-D19), Samuel Wilson, better known as "Uncle Sam" (71A-F24), Charles V. Gridley (55A-F21.2), and John Gray, the last surviving Revolutionary War veteran (50A-F20).

Related Records

12.29 Although the Library Committee functioned as a standing committee of the House, its members also served as members of the Joint Committee on the Library. Records of the Joint Committee on the Library are arranged in two parallel collections: a House collection and a Senate collection. The Joint Committee records are not distributed between the two collections in a systematic way, and in the period between 1823 and 1851 (18th-31st Congresses) they are found in both collections. The records of the Joint Committee for recent Congresses have been in the custody of the Committee on House Administration.

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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 Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 17 volumes 27th-33rd (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), 22nd (1831-33), 27th-28th (1841-45), 31st (1849-51), 33rd (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.)  

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.

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Records of the Committee on Mileage (1837-1927)

History and Jurisdiction

12.36 The jurisdiction of the Committee on Mileage is described in Rule XI: "The ascertaining of the travel of Members of the House shall be made by the Committee on Mileage and reported to the Sergeant at Arms." The committee was an outgrowth of the Committee on Accounts which originally was charged with the audit of Members' mileage. In 1927 the Committee on Mileage was discontinued and these duties were returned to the Accounts Committee.

12.37 In addition to determining the travel expenses of Members, the committee reported on bills, resolutions, and petitions and memorials related to this subject.

Records of the Committee on Mileage, 25th-69th Congresses (1837-1927)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Petitions and Memorials   1 inch 26th (1839-41), 28TH (1843-45), 30th (1847-49) 34th (1855-57), 42d-43d (1871-75), 61st (1909-11, 67th (1921-23)
Committee Papers 1 inch 30th (1847-49, 34th (1855-57)
Total 2 inches     

12.38 The records of the committee include petitions from groups of citizens praying that the per diem and travel expenses of Members be reduced, and resolutions to devise better methods of calculating mileage.

Related Records

12.39 Other records of the committee, volumes titled "Pay & Mileage of Representatives" (14 ft.) from the 13th Congress to the 50th Congress (1813-1889) are preserved in the records of Treasury Department, RG 217. They may have been transferred to the Office of the First Auditor for review.

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Records of the Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics (1893-1911)

History and Jurisdiction

12.40 The standing Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics was established to have jurisdiction over subjects related to the ventilation and acoustics of the Hall of the House of Representatives. The ventilation and acoustics of the House Chamber had been known to be unsatisfactory from 1857 when the chamber was first occupied. Before the establishment of the standing committee, numerous select committees were named to study the problem and suggest solutions. In 1911 the committee was abolished and the subjects in its jurisdiction were included in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Accounts.

Records of the Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics, 53rd-61st Congresses (1893-1911) and Predecessor Select Committees

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 1 volume 45th (1877-79), 52d (1891-93)
Docket Books 1 volume 52d (1891-93)
Committee Papers   2 inches 48th (1883-85), 52d-53d (1891-95)
Total 2 inches and 2 volumes    

12.41 Although special, joint, and standing committees on ventilation and acoustics had existed almost continuously for 50 years, only two inches of unpublished records have been preserved. The minute and docket volumes contain little documentation. Committee papers from the select committee from 1881-83 contain correspondence, drafts of reports, brochures and blueprints for ventilating machines, and drawings of the ventilation system of the House (48A-F46). The committee papers from the standing committee from 1893-95 contain correspondence and drawings of inventions and proposals to alleviate the ventilation problems in the House Hall, as well as a number of letters enumerating the personnel employed in the Capitol, and a critical appraisal of the staff of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (53A-F45).

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Records of the Committee on Memorials (1929-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.42 The Committee on Memorials was established to make arrangements for the observance of a memorial day by the House of Representatives in memory of the Members of the House and Senate who had died during the preceding session, and to arrange for the publication of the proceedings thereof. Before the establishment of the committee it was the custom to hold a separate memorial service in honor of each Member who died during the session or the recess preceding it.

12.43 The records generated by the committee consist of printed collections of memorial messages in the Congressional Serial Set.

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Records of the Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers (1889-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.44 The Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers was established on Feb. 16, 1889, by "An Act to authorize and provide for the disposition of useless papers in the Executive Departments." The act provided that whenever an executive department accumulated files of papers that were not needed for the transaction of current business and possessed no permanent value or historical interest, the head of the agency would submit a report to Congress with a concise statement of the character and condition of such papers. The presiding officer of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would, upon receipt of the report, each appoint two Members to sit on a joint committee to meet and examine the reports and papers, and report on them. If the report of the joint committee agreed that the papers were useless, the head of the department would be ordered to sell them as wastepaper or otherwise dispose of them.

12.45 As the disposition process became institutionalized a Select Committee on the Disposition of (Useless) Executive Papers was regularly appointed at the beginning of each Congress. In 1911 it was recognized as a standing committee in the revised Rules of the House. Under the 1934 National Archives Act the Archivist of the United States was given responsibility for governmental records and archives and was required to submit the disposition lists formerly submitted by the agencies.

12.46 In addition, the committee occasionally held hearings and reported bills relating to governmental recordkeeping and archives. Under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the two House Members on the Joint Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers were selected from the membership of the House Administration Committee.

Records of the Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers, 51st-79th Congresses (1889-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Committee Papers   2 inches    75th-76th (1937-41)
Bill Files 2 inches 74th-76th (1935-41)
Total 4 inches  

12.47 The committee papers and bill files of the standing House committee consist of printed copies of bills, hearings and reports. Most of the records related to congressional action on the disposition of executive papers are found in the records of the joint committee.

Related Records

12.48 In addition to the records of the standing committee, there are records of the Joint Committee on the Disposition of Executive Papers (see Chapter 23). The records of the joint committee are arranged in two groups, a House collection and a Senate collection. They contain reports from executive agencies and the National Archives that were submitted to the committee for review. These agency reports contain detailed descriptions of the records which are summarized in the printed joint committee reports. The House joint committee collection (7 ft.) contains records for the period between 1889 and 1946. The Senate joint committee collection (9 ft.) contains scattered records from 1893 through 1964.

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Records of the Committee on Engraving (1844-1860)

History and Jurisdiction

12.49 A select committee on engraving was established on January 11, 1844, to examine abuses in the engraving, lithographing, and printing of maps ordered by the 26th and 27th Congresses. On March 16th, after investigating the abuses, and finding substantial overcharges by "men who subsist and fatten on the national treasury," Mr. Samuel Simons of the select committee submitted the following resolution which established the standing committee:

  • That there should be appointed a standing committee, of this House, to consist of three members, to be called the Committee on Engraving, to whom shall be referred by the Clerk, all drawings, maps, charts, and other papers, which may, at any time, come before the House for engraving, lithographing, or publishing in any way; which committee shall report to the House whether the same ought, in their opinion be published; and if the House order the publication of the same, the said committee shall direct the size and manner of execution of all such maps, charts, drawings, or other papers, and to contract by agreement, in writing, for all such engraving, lithographing, printing, drawing, and coloring as may be ordered by the House.3

12.50 The standing committee continued for fifteen years until it was discontinued and its jurisdiction taken by the Joint Committee on Printing.

Records of the Committee on Engraving, 28th-36th Congresses (1844-1860)

Record Type Volume      Congresses (Dates)
Committee Papers   1 inch 28th (1843-45), 30th (1847-49)
Total 1 inch  

12.51 The records consist of original manuscript copies of House Report 179, 28th Congress, 2d session, and House Report 390, 30th Congress, 1st session.

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Records of the Committee on Printing (1846-1946)

History and Jurisdiction

12.52 Hind's Precedents of the House of Representatives describes the Printing Committee in the following way, "While in fact a joint committee, the House branch acts also as a standing committee of the House, receiving resolutions and bills which are referred to it and reporting them by its own authority, without the concurrent action of the Senate branch." The Joint Committee on Printing established in 1846 has continued until the present date. The House branch acting as a standing committee continued until 1947 when it was incorporated into the House Administration Committee. House Members of the Joint Committee have been selected from the membership of the House Administration Committee since 1947.

12.53 The jurisdiction of the Committee on Printing included all proposed legislation or orders touching on printing. In practice this included the general supervision of the printing, management, and policies of the Government Printing Office (GPO) and occasionally the pay of its employees; the letting of contracts; procurement of suitable paper; control of the arrangement, style, bulk, and indexing of the Congressional Record; and supervision of the printing of the Congressional Directory. The committee reported bills and resolutions regarding the printing, binding, and distribution of public documents, including the annual reports of executive agencies, bureaus, and commissions; messages of the President; special scientific studies and reports; public health reports and statements; historical documentary publications such as the Territorial Papers of the United States; and hearings of congressional committees.

Records of the Committee on Printing, 29th-79th Congresses (1846-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 11 volumes 50th-54th (1887-97), 56th-57th (1899-1903), 64th-65th (1915-19), 67th-72d (1921-33), 75th (1937-38)
Docket Books 12 volumes 50th-51st (1887-91), 54th-57th (1895-1903), 64th-71st (1915-31)
Petitions and Memorials 1 foot 31st-33d (1849-55), 35th (1857-59), 37th-38th (1861-65), 43d-44th (1873-77), 46th-48th (1879-85), 51st-56th (1889-1901), 67th-68th (1921-25), 73d (1933-34), 76th (1939-41), 79th (1945-46)
Committee Papers  6 feet 32d (1851-53), 34th-35th (1855-59), 44th (1875-77), 46th (1879-81), 48th-57th (1883-1903), 64th (1915-17), 66th-77th (1919-42), 79th (1945-46)
Bill Files 3 feet 59th-60th (1905-09), 64th (1915-17), 66th-72d (1919-33), 74th-79th (1935-46)
Total 10 feet and 23 volumes (2 ft.)  

12.54 The minute books generally contain brief entries documenting the business acted on by the small (three-member) committee. The docket books usually contain a more detailed accounting of the bills, resolutions, petitions, memorials, and other documents referred to the committee, and the associated committee activity. The docket books record resolutions providing for the printing, binding, and distribution of documents such as the Congressional Record, additional copies of House and Senate committee reports and documents, and special projects such as the A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1902, which was prepared by James D. Richardson, chairman of the House Printing Committee.

12.55 The petition and memorial files for this committee are not extensive. Most of the petitions are from the 19th century. They include prayers from printers seeking contracts for the printing of Congress or asking that Congress purchase copies of their publications; memorials of printers and printing unions wishing to influence public printing policy; and citizens praying for increased distribution of congressional documents such as mailing the Congressional Globe to every family (46A-H20), or for the preservation and publication of specific documents, such as the papers of the Continental Congress (54A-H27.1) or the records of the Civil War (51A-H18.2).

12.56 Committee papers prior to the 56th Congress (2 ft.) consist primarily of correspondence related to specific bills and resolutions. The subjects included are similar to those of the petitions.

12.57 After 1903 there are records designated as bill files, and as committee papers, but there is no clear distinction between the records in the two series: both contain files arranged by bill or resolution number, and contain correspondence related to the legislation. These records document the evolution of public printing and distribution policy, and the individuals and groups who expressed interest in specific publication policies and projects. Among the records are numerous resolutions providing for the printing of documents such as Thomas Jefferson's "Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," numerous U.S. Department of Agriculture publications such as The Woodsman's Handbook, and the annual and special reports of the executive agencies. Other records found in the committee papers include transcripts of 1875-77 committee hearings on the cost of GPO work (44A-F27), and 1899-1901 hearings on the pay of laborers at GPO, and the Daniel process of map-making (56A-F31).

Related Records

12.58 The records of the Joint Committee on Printing are preserved in two "collections" and contain material that is related to that of the House standing committee. The joint committee files before 1845 (29th Congress) are from temporary joint committees established before the creation of the standing Joint Committee in 1846. The House collection of records of the Joint Printing Committee contains files from 1847 through 1942 with gaps. The Senate collection of Joint Committee on Printing records contains scattered files from 1789 through 1958.

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Records of the House Administration Committee (1947-1968)

History and Jurisdiction

12.59 The House Administration Committee was created on January 2, 1947, under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. The new committee merged the functions and jurisdictions of the Committees on Accounts; Enrolled Bills; Memorials; Election of the President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress; the Library; Printing; Disposition of Executive Papers; and the three committees on elections. Its jurisdiction included all legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other material relating to the following subjects:

  • a) Appropriations from the contingent fund; (b) auditing and settling of all accounts which may be charged to the contingent fund; (c) employment of persons by the House, including clerks for Members and committees, and reporters of debates; (d) except as provided in clause 15 (d), matters relating to the Library of Congress and the House Library, statuary and pictures, acceptance or purchase of works of art for the Capitol, the Botanic Gardens, management of the Library of Congress, purchase of books and manuscripts, erection of monuments to the memory of individuals; (e) except as provided in clause 15 (d), matters relating to the Smithsonian Institution and the incorporation of similar institutions; (f) expenditure of contingent fund of the House; (g) matters relating to printing and correction of the Congressional Record; (h) measures relating to accounts of the House generally; (i) measures relating to assignment of office space for Members and committees; (j) measures relating to the disposition of useless executive papers; (k) measures relating to the election of the President, Vice President, or Members of Congress, corrupt practices, contested elections, credentials and qualifications, and Federal elections generally; (l) measures relating to services to the House, including the House Restaurant and administration of the House Office Buildings and of the House wing of the Capitol; (m) measures relating to the travel of Members of the House; (n) such committee shall also have the duty of: 1) arranging a suitable program for each day observed by the House of Representatives as a memorial day in memory of Members of the Senate or House of Representatives who have died during the preceding period, and to arrange for the publication of the proceedings thereof; 2) examining all bills, amendments, and joint resolutions... to see that they are correctly enrolled... and present the same, when they shall have originated in the House, to the President... and report the fact and date of such presentation to the House; 3) reporting to the Sergeant at Arms of the House the travel of Members of the House.4

12.60 This complex jurisdiction is reflected in the subcommittee structure and the joint committee seats designated for members of the committee. Between 1947 and 1968 the standing subcommittees and joint committees shown below retained basically the same structure, although there were slight jurisdictional and name changes, and several special subcommittees were established temporarily. The basic committee structure was:

  • Subcommittees:
    • Accounts
    • Elections
    • Printing
    • Enrolled Bills, Library, Disposition of Executive Papers, and Memorials
  • Joint Committees:
    • Disposition of Executive Papers
    • Library
    • Printing

12.61 The records of the full committee and each of the standing subcommittees for each Congress, are arranged by Congress and thereunder by organizational unit and record type. The various types of files or series of files described below appear regularly in the records of the full committee or subcommittee for each Congress. The footage figures given in the table below are cumulative.

Records of the Committee on House Administration, 80th-90th Congresses (1947-1968)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minutes 3 feet 80th-90th (1947-68)
Petitions and Memorials   2 feet 83d (1953-54), 85th (1957-58), 88th-90th (1963-68)
Committee Papers 331 feet     80th-90th (1947-68)
Bill Files 42 feet 80th-90th (1947-68)
Total 378 feet  

12.62 The records are arranged by Congress and thereunder by organizational unit--full committee, subcommittees--and thereunder by record type. The records of the full committee (63 ft.) for each Congress include bill files arranged by subcommittee of referral, which consist of copies of the printed bills, reports, and Public (slip) Laws; and committee papers generally consisting of a reading file of outgoing correspondence, and a small alphabetical administrative subject file. The minutes of full committee meetings may be filed under "M" in the administrative subject file. Executive communications may be retained among the records of the full committee or they may be among those of the subcommittee to which they were referred.

12.63 The records of the Subcommittee on Accounts (185 ft.) consist of accounting documents, vouchers, detailed lists of disbursements, and bills for telephone and telegraph services (130 ft.), and a number of series of general subcommittee records (55 ft.). Many of the following series appear in the records of each Congress: stationery requisitions from committees and officers of the House; statements of mileage of Members; resolutions for funding special studies and investigations by committees; a general subject file; minutes of subcommittee meetings (which may be filed under "M" in the general subject file); and an authorizations file for committees and officers of the House. Transcripts for open and executive session hearings are often included in the appropriate funding resolution or authorization files. Occasionally, there are special files created for particular studies or investigations. Examples of these are a study of the positions and salaries of officers of the House in the 1955-56 records (84A-F8.14), and a 1961-62 study of the problem of residences for congressional pages (87A-F7.9).

12.64 The records of the Elections Subcommittee (57 ft.), generally include, for each Congress, the minutes of the subcommittee, a series of printed bills and resolutions with accompanying reports, transcripts of hearings and correspondence related to the legislation. There are records on contested elections for most Congresses. The records of the subcommittee in odd numbered Congresses contain Certificates of Ascertainment for the Presidential electors. The records of the subcommittee contain significant accumulations of records relating to poll tax legislation in the 1947-51 period (80A-D13, 81A-F8.3); bills designed to bar "unAmerican political parties" from elections in 1947-48 (80A-D13); files on the Hatch Act between 1949 and 1960 (81A-F8.3, 83A-F8.4, 85A-F8.17, 86A-F8.13); and, a 1961-62 study of State election laws prepared for use in the revision of the Federal election laws (87a- F7.13).

12.65 The records of the Printing Subcommittee (16 ft.) consist primarily of printing resolutions, and minutes of subcommittee meetings.

12.66 The records from the Subcommittee on the Library, Enrolled Bills, Disposition of Executive Papers, and Memorials (50 ft.) contain for each Congress a general legislative subjects file, lists of federal records proposed for disposal by the Archivist of the United States, enrolled bills files which contain White House receipts and receipts from the National Archives, and in most cases a folder of subcommittee minutes.

12.67 Significant accumulations of records for the following subjects related to the jurisdiction of the Library Subcommittee include a proposal to fund construction of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, MO (83A-F8.6); the National Historical Publications Commission (85A-F8.26); a proposal to name the rose the national flower (85A- F8.26); a study of depository libraries (85A-F8.30); and, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Commission (87A-F7.18).

12.68 Records of Special Subcommittees include the following:

  • Special Subcommittee on Electrical and Mechanical Office Equipment: 84th-90th Congresses, 1955-68 (2 ft.)
  • Special Subcommittee on Contracts: 89th-90th Congresses, 1965-68 (2 ft.)
  • Special Subcommittee to Study Federal Printing and Paperwork: 84th-85th Congresses, 1955-58 (30 in.)
  • Special Subcommittee on Audits: 86th-88th Congresses, 1959-64 (1 ft.)
  • Special Subcommittee on Police: 90th Congress, 1967-68 (5 in.)
  • Special Subcommittee on Parking: 84th-88th Congresses, 1955-64 (6 in.)
  • Special Subcommittee on the House Restaurant: 84th Congress, 1955-56
    (1 inch)

Related Records

12.69 There are records (5 ft.) of the 90th Congress Select Committee, which, Pursuant to H.Res. 1 investigated the right of Adam Clayton Powell to hold a seat in the House and records of investigation by the House Administration Subcommittee on Contracts (3 in.), which led to the creation of the select committee.

12.70 Select Committees on Campaign Contributions (or Expenditures) were created in each Congress between 1927 and 1974. There are records (70 ft.) for the select committees during the 70th and 78th through 88th Congresses (1927-29 and 1943-64). During the 90th Congress a new standing Committee on Standards of Official Conduct was established with jurisdiction over House election races. The records of these committees may contain information related to the House Administration Committee's jurisdiction over Federal elections.

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1. Annals of the Congress of the United States, 1st Cong., 1st sess., April 13, 1789, p. 122. [Back to text]

2. Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1st Cong., 1st sess., July 27, 1789, p. 67. [Back to text]

3. Congressional Globe, 1st sess., Mar. 16, 1844, p. 402. [Back to text]

4. U.S. Congress, House Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and rules of the House of Representatives of the United States, 90th Congress, H. Doc. 529, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 1967, p. 339. [Back to text]

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.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives