Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 14: Judiciary

Chapter 14. Records of the Judiciary Committee and Related Committees

Committee Records discussed in this chapter:

Committee on the Judiciary (1813-1986)

Jurisdiction and History

14.53 The standing Committee on the Judiciary was established on June 3, 1813, to take into consideration matters "touching judicial proceedings." In 1880 the rule defining its jurisdiction was revised to read "judicial proceedings, civil and criminal law," and this remained the formal definition of the jurisdiction of the committee until the reorganization of Congress in 1946. Nevertheless, a wide range of subjects was referred to it. During its first 133 years, the committee reported legislation concerning the jurisdiction of the courts; local courts in the District of Columbia, territories, and insular possessions; charges against judges; criminals, crimes, penalties, and extradition; counterfeiting, espionage, and sedition; the Department of Justice; and national penitentiaries. It also reported on revisions of U.S. statutes and the code of law of the District of Columbia.

14.54 It reported legislation relating to the office of the President and to Members of Congress, the refusal of public officers to execute acts of Congress, Government contracts, and impeachment. It was responsible for legislation affecting the organization of the Federal Government or the government of a territory and for settling State and Territorial boundary disputes.

14.55 It exercised jurisdiction over the incorporation of certain organizations by the Federal Government and Federal control of corporations; the relationships between organized labor, the courts, and corporations; and the investigation and regulation of trusts and monopolies.

14.56 It dealt with questions concerning the power of Congress under the Constitution to affect certain aspects of American life as well as questions of law affecting subjects in the jurisdiction of other committees. It examined the constitutionality of bills pending in the House and reported joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution.

14.57 The committee had broad jurisdiction over matters affecting the civil and legal rights of citizens: the rights of citizens under treaties; the removal of political disabilities imposed under the 14th Amendment; woman suffrage and other rights and privileges of women; laws relating to marriage, divorce, and polygamy; the general study of criminals, paupers, defectives, and juveniles; bankruptcy; and alcoholic liquor traffic and prohibition.

14.58 It reported on general legislation concerning claims against the Government; war claims, Territorial and District of Columbia claims; claims between States; claims of States against the United States; international claims; pensioners' oaths and fraudulent claims; and international copyright and patent appeals. It also reported legislation on subjects such as the national anthem, desecration of the flag, and national holidays and celebrations.

14.59 Under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the Judiciary Committee absorbed the jurisdictions of the Committees on Patents (created 1837), Revision of Laws (created 1868), Immigration and Naturalization (created 1893), Claims (created 1794), and War Claims (created 1873). The new formal jurisdiction, as stated in House rules, included the following subjects:

  • (a) judicial proceedings, civil and criminal generally; (b)apportionment of Representatives; (c) bankruptcy, mutiny, espionage, and counterfeiting; (d) civil liberties; (e) constitutional amend-ments; (f) federal courts and judges; (g) holidays and celebrations; (h) immigration and naturalization; (i) interstate compacts generally; (j)local courts in the territories and possessions; (k) measures relating to claims against the United States; (l) meeting of Congress, attendance of members and their acceptance of incompatible offices; (m) national penitentiaries; (n) the Patent Office; (o) patents, copyrights, and trademarks; (p) Presidential succession; (q) protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies; (r) revision and codification of the statutes of the United States; and, (s) state and territorial boundary lines.1

Records of the Committee on the Judiciary, 13th-79th Congresses (1813-1946)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minute Books 47 vols. 35th-79th (1857-1946)
Docket Books 54 vols. 20th-62d (1827-1913)
Petitions and Memorials 104 ft. 13th-79th (1813-1946)
Committee Papers 33 ft. 13th-61st (1813-1911), 64th-79th (1915-46)
Bill Files 155 ft. 58th-79th (1903-46)
TOTAL: 292 ft. and 101 vols. (8 ft., 5 in.)  

14.60 The minute books of the House Judiciary Committee are among the most complete and thorough of any committee of Congress. They contain a daily record of the activity in meetings of the full committee, and, in some cases, they include the meetings of subcommittees. They document attendance at meetings, legislation considered, amendments and proposed amendments to legislation, roll-call votes, committee resolutions, the appointment of subcommittee members, and committee decisionmaking on matters such as the selection of witnesses to testify at committee hearings.

14.61 Minute books are useful because they provide background for documents found in the other records series. The minute book for the 40th and 41st Congresses (1867-71), for instance, provides a means for following the complex activities of the committee during this active period following the Civil War. The minutes (40A-F13.5, 420 pages) document the daily activities of the committee relating to the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson; the impeachment of Richard Busteed, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alabama; a subcommittee investigation into affairs in the State of Maryland; a subcommittee investigation into conditions in Delaware; the investigation of the Panoche Grande land title case; and the receipt, consideration, markup, and reporting of legislation.

14.62 The docket books generally list the petitions, memorials, bills, resolutions, and other documents referred to the committee, along with notes on committee activity on the documents. The earliest volume (1827-43) contains only very simple entries indicating the documents referred in chronological order. After the 30th Congress (1847-49), an attempt was made in some of the docket books to record the documents in alphabetical order rather than chronologically by date of referral. The alphabetical ordering is useful for research in claims or other private legislation that may be identified by individuals' names, but it complicates research in public legislation that is not identified by proper names.

14.63 After the 62d Congress (1911-13) there are no docket books in the records of this committee, but the information that was contained in them can be found in the Committee Calendars.

14.64 Petitions and memorials make up a large proportion of the early committee documentation--over 65 percent of the pre-1900 records. For the most part, they consist of four types of documents.

14.65 The first type of petition sought to present a case to Congress in order to obtain legislation of a private nature. Some petitions, particularly those stating claims against the Government, requesting action on an invention patent, or concerning immigration or naturalization, include an inch or more of records that present explanation and evidence supporting the prayer of the petitioner. This type of petition often resulted in private bills or resolutions. The petition and memorial files of most Congresses until after the Civil War contain petitions for claims. Most of the claims concern routine reimbursement of persons harmed by Government activities; however, the records also contain extraordinary documents, such as the claim of Liliuokalani for the restitution of certain crown property in Hawaii (59A-H14.2).

14.66 A second type consists of documents submitted by one individual or a small group of individuals from a common location or sharing common interests and praying for congressional action to resolve a local or otherwise narrow public problem, such as a complaint about a local official or a request for the creation of a judicial district.

14.67 A third type of petition prays for action to resolve problems of national scope by means of legislation or constitutional amendment. Some national subjects, such as slavery and woman suffrage, elicited large numbers of petitions from groups of citizens in various parts of the country. Organized movements to collect signatures often made use of printed petition blanks on which signatures were collected. Large numbers of these signed petition forms were subsequently brought together and glued end-to-end, forming impressive roll petitions to be presented to Congress. Nineteenth-century roll petitions in Judiciary Committee records may be as large as 6 inches in diameter and contain more than 50,000 signatures.

14.68 The fourth type of document consists of resolutions from State legislatures that indicate a preference on certain national issues, such as immigration policy, and pray for legislation to facilitate the preferred policy.

14.69 During the earliest period (1813-69), a number of subjects appear regularly: an improved system of bankruptcy law, revisions in patent laws, revisions in immigration and naturalization laws, congressional action creating or changing judicial districts in States or Territories or increasing the pay of judicial officers, claims of individuals for relief, prayers for release from judicial judgments, and petitions relating to specific patents.

14.70 Periodically, particular subjects elicited large volumes of petitions. Some of the subjects remained current for several decades while others faded into obscurity after a brief period. For instance, although petitions praying for bankruptcy legislation appear in small numbers in the records of many Congresses, a prolonged depression elicited hundreds of bankruptcy petitions (27A-G10.3) between 1841 and 1843. Other topics that appeared briefly during the mid-19th century were the annexation of Canada (28A-G10.4), the Crittenden Compromise (36A-G10.3, 37A-G7.8), the admission of West Virginia to statehood (37A-G7.4), an 8-hour workday (39A-H14.6), and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson (39A-H14.7, 40A- H10.2). Petitions to abolish the offices of chaplains in Congress and in the armed services appear regularly in the records between the 28th and 35th Congresses (1843-58).

14.71 Throughout the period before the Civil War, petitions and memorials relating to the slavery question appear in many records of Congress. Between 1836 and 1844, the 21st rule of the House (the so-called gag rule) provided that no petition relating to the abolition of slavery would be entertained in any way; therefore, all such petitions and memorials received during that period were tabled. During this period, hundreds of petitions (5 ft.) relating to the abolition of slavery, slavery in the District of Columbia, fugitive slave laws and fugitive slaves, the admission of slave states, slavery in the Territories, African colonization, and repeal of the 21st rule were tabled.

14.72 From the early 1840's until the end of the Civil War, petitions relating to the slavery issue appear in the records of the Judiciary Committee. The earliest petitions referred to the committee toward the end of the era of the gag rule protest the rule itself. They maintain that the rule impaired the constitutional right of the people to petition Congress for a redress of grievances. Other petitions approach the slavery issue more directly:

  • The subscribers, legal voters of the town of Hudson, in the county of Summitt & State of Ohio, respectfully pray that the proper steps may be made for the repeal of all laws, & the alteration of all constitutional provisions, by which the people of the Free States, the Federal Government, or the Nation, are in any way implicated or bound to contenance, protect, or in any manner aid in supporting or continuing the institution of slavery or in keeping human beings in a state of slavery. [69 signatures, Dec. 15, 1841 (27A-G10.7)]

14.73 Other petitions and memorials concern many aspects of the slavery issue: Abolition of slavery (28A-G10.2, 30A-G9.2, 32A-G10.3, 36A-G10.5, 37A-G7.2, 38A-G10.1), repeal of the fugitive slave laws (28A-G10.12, 32A-G10.6, 33A-G10.10, 37A-G7.11), protection of free colored persons (33A-G10.8), slave trade (29A-G8.9, 33A-G10.1, 36A-G10.8), slavery in the District of Columbia (36A-G10.6), and freeing slaves through purchase (36A-G10.7). Slavery-related petitions reflect the disparate attitudes in the Nation. The records of the 37th Congress (1861-62), for instance, contain petitions praying for the abolition of slavery (37A- G7.1, 37A-G7.2), instructing Congress to "drop the negro question and attend to the business of the country" (37A-G7.3), praying for repeal of the fugitive slave laws (37A-G7.4), and suggesting creative solutions such as the reduction of South Carolina, Georgia, and part of Florida to Territorial status to be colonized by freed blacks (37A-G7.15).

14.74 After the issue of slavery was laid to rest, the civil and legal rights of blacks became the subject of another set of petitions beginning around 1900. Anti-lynching petitions begin to appear in the 56th Congress (1899-1900) and continue through the 78th (1943- 44).

14.75 After the Civil War, the subjects of woman suffrage and prohibition replaced slavery as major national issues. Concern for the protection and rights of women was also expressed in petitions condemning polygamy (45A-H11.4, 47A-H11.2, 48A-H12.1, 49A- H11.4, 56A-H13.4, 57A-H14.4, 58A-H12.7, 60A-H19.1, 64A-H13.4, 65A-H8.10), praying to raise the age of consent of girls in the District of Columbia (54A-H12.1, 55A-H12.10), and praying for better divorce laws (48A-H12.4, 56A-H13.4) and for more adequate protection of women and girls (50A-H13.5). During the 65th and 66th Congresses (1917-20), petitions relating to woman suffrage were referred to the standing Committee on Woman Suffrage.

14.76 The problems associated with the adoption of a national policy regarding alcoholic liquor constituted a continuing subject of petitions both before and after the passage of the 18th Amendment. There are petitions and memorials relating in some way to the alcohol issue in the records of the Judiciary Committee in nearly every Congress between the 42d and the 79th. During part of this period, petitions and memorials relating to alcohol were referred to the select and standing Committees on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, which existed between the 46th and 69th Congresses (1879-1927).

14.77 The Judiciary Committee petitions include demands for a constitutional amendment to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol (42A-H8.8, 43A-H8.4, 50A-H13.2, 52A-H11.2, 58A-H12.5, 62A-H17.1, 64A-H13.5) and proposals for legislation to appoint a commission to study alcoholic liquor traffic (42A-H8.4, 43A-H8.1, 44A-H8.1, 45A- H11.1). The records of the 60th Congress (1907-9) contain anti-prohibition protests from bottlers, brewers, distillers, and the German-American Alliance and related organizations (60A- H19.2 and H19.3). The records of the 42d Congress (1871-73) contain petitions suggesting a constitutional amendment to provide that no persons addicted to alcoholic liquors would be eligible to hold a Federal office (42A-H8.3). After the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the committee continued to receive alcohol-related petitions proposing to alter the prohibition amendment and the enforcement provisions of the Volstead Act (66A-H11.16, 67A- H10.6, 68A-H10.3, 70A-H5.2, 71A-H9.5, 72A-H8.3). After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 by the 21st Amendment, the committee received petitions calling for legislation to regulate interstate trade in alcohol (77A-H9.1, 78A-H9.20) and to prohibit the advertisement of alcoholic beverages by radio (76A-F13.1). As late as the 78th Congress (1943-44), the committee records include petitions (78A-H9.20, 16 ft.) evenly divided between those for and against a national policy on prohibition.

14.78 Petitions for a constitutional amendment to recognize God as the Supreme Authority appeared during the period between the 39th (1865) and 45th (1878) Congresses. Other subjects that elicited large numbers of petitions were the direct election of senators (43A-H8.6, 50A-H13.3, 51A-H11.1, 52A-H11.4, 54A-H16.5, 60A-H19.1, 61A-H16.9), Sunday rest laws (50A-H13.6, 51A-H11.7, 55A-H12.12), various ways to regulate and restrict immigration and the activities of aliens (53A-H16.3, 53A-H16.5, 57A-H14.2), anti-injunction legislation (57A-H14.2, 59A-H14.13, 60A-H19.14), interstate gambling over telephone lines (55A-H12.7, 58A-H12.8), and the removal of the U.S. district court from Keokuk to Burlington, IA (43A-H8.8).

14.79 After 1920 petitioner's concerns again shifted and new subjects begin to appear: unemployment (71A-H9.5, 79A-H9.11), fair employment (78A-H9), fair trade (75A- H8.1, 77A-H9.7), birth control (73A-H10.4), un-American activities (74A-H8.4, 75A-H8.10), communism and propaganda (73A-H10.5), sedition and aliens (66A-H11.19, 76A-H13.2), the Hatch Act (76A-H13.9), antitrust laws and the investigation of monopolies (76A-H13.10), poll taxes (76A-H13.12, 79A-H9.12), an equal rights amendment to the Constitution (68A-H10.2, 76A-H13.6, 77A-H9.6, 78A-H9.6), conscription and conscientious objection (65A-H8.6, 79A- H9.5), and administrative procedures (79A-H9.1).

14.80 The committee papers files average less than 3 inches per Congress during the 19th century and 8 inches per Congress between 1900 and 1946, except where they are swollen by special collections of documents, such as material collected for a study of international bankruptcy laws (55A-F19.1, 6 ft.); systematic bill file collections in the records of the 56th and 57th Congresses, 1901-4 (28 in. and 14 in.); an anti-injunction legislation correspondence file (59A-F21.2, 16 in.); a general correspondence file (60A-F30.2, 7 in.); and correspondence and complaints regarding courts and officers of courts (72A-F18.2, 18 in.).

14.81 Committee papers generally contain correspondence, reports, and other documents relating to the subjects in the petition and memorial files or to other subjects in the committee's jurisdiction. There are reports and correspondence relating to claims in the records of most Congresses between the 17th and 36th (1821-61), and records relating to courts, judicial districts, judges, and the pay of various court officials in most Congresses between the 13th and 58th (1813-1905). Other subjects that appear include the trial of Jefferson Davis for treason (39A-F13.10); civil and legal rights (43A-F14.1, 45A-F18.2), especially of freedmen (39A- F13.2); anti-lynching legislation (75A-F22.1); constitutional amendments concerning polygamy (56A-F19.1) and legal tender paper money (48A-F16.1); the trial of Susan B. Anthony for illegal voting (42A-F14.14); the meat-packing industry (64A-F20.1); woman suffrage (39A-F13.11, 55A-F19.4, 64A-F20.4); and anti-injunction legislation (58A-F19.1, 59A-F21.2).

14.82 The committee papers also contain records relating to investigations of the governments of Maryland and Delaware (40A-F13.1), the Pacific railroads (44A-F19.1), and the Kansas Pacific Railroad (50A-F18.3).

14.83 Bill files for the Judiciary Committee contain correspondence, hearings, reports, and other documents related to particular bills. Material on certain private bills and resolutions considered before the establishment of a systematic collection of bill files in 1903, may be found in the accompanying papers collection for the 39th through 57th Congresses.

14.84 The average size of the series increased over time from less than 3 feet per Congress before 1919 to about 7 feet between 1919 and 1934 and to about 12 feet per Congress between 1935 and 1946. The records of the 58th (1903-4), 62d-63d (1911-14), and 72d (1931-32) Congresses are small and incomplete, less than 10 inches each.

14.85 The files for each Congress are arranged by type of legislation: House bills, House resolutions, House joint resolutions, House concurrent resolutions, Senate bills, Senate joint resolutions, and Senate concurrent resolutions--and thereunder by bill or resolution number. The bill files for each Congress vary in completeness, and the individual bill files vary in the type of material preserved. A typical file contains correspondence related to the bill, copies of the original bill or resolution and amendments to it, copies of printed hearings, reports, and, occasionally, transcripts of unpublished public or executive session hearings. Sometimes petitions and memorials concerning the legislation are included in the bill file rather than in the petition and memorial series.

14.86 The bill files generally contain bills to amend parts of the judicial code, to establish judicial districts, to appoint additional judges, to amend practice and procedure in Federal courts, and to confer jurisdiction. They generally contain files on joint resolutions to amend the Constitution in various ways.

Records of the Committee on the Judiciary, 80th-90th Congresses (1947-68)

Record Type Volume Congresses (Dates)
Minutes 7 ft. 80th-90th (1947-68)
Petitions and Memorials 24 ft. 80th-86th (1947-60), 88th-90th (1963-68)
Committee Papers 573 ft. 80th-90th (1947-68)
Bill Files 1,298 ft. 80th-90th (1947-68)
TOTAL: 2,025 ft.  

14.87 The records of the committee during this period are generally arranged by Congress and thereunder in four categories: committee papers, bill files, petitions and memorials, and minutes. The records in the first two categories, however, are much more voluminous than those created before 1947 and are broken down into subcategories, primarily by full committee or subcommittee of referral. The minutes of full committee and subcommittee meetings are generally unbound and are filed along with other committee papers.

14.88 There are full committee general correspondence files for the 80th-84th, 88th, and 89th Congresses. There are minute books of the full committee for the 80th- 84th and 87th Congresses, and collections of minutes from the standing subcommittees (see below) for the 85th through 90th Congresses. The minute books of the full committee not currently at the National Archives are in the custody of the committee. A collection of subpoenas issued by the committee between the 84th and 91st Congresses is filed with the 91st Congress committee papers.

14.89 The petition and memorial files from this period document public opinion and concern over civil rights, displaced persons, income tax, the electoral vote for the District of Columbia, school prayer, the Bricker Amendment, anti-trust legislation, submerged lands, and the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act. Also included are recommendations for the impeachment of certain public officials. Examples of these include the large number of petitions to impeach Earl Warren and other Justices of the Supreme Court (86A- H9.3). Some petitions submitting claims such as a 1958 petition from members of the Bolo Battalion for recognition of its guerrilla activities in the Philippines during World War II (86A- H9.1) are also found among these records. The majority of such claim petitions, however, are in the bill files of the Claims Subcommittee.

14.90 The petition and memorial files and constituent mail on popular issues often do not contain all of the material received by Congress. Many topics, such as school busing, school prayer, and Constitutional amendments, generated huge amounts of mail, much of it on pre-printed postcards or form letters. In some cases these were measured and sampled to provide documentation of citizen interest and opinion. A massive public opinion campaign was waged over the issues of prayer in public schools. The records of the 88th Congress (1963-64) include over 25 feet of petitions and memorials and letters on this emotional subject. The records are arranged by type and opinion: petitions supporting the right to have prayer in school (7 ft.) and against school prayer (6 in.); and correspondence for (12 feet) and against prayer in school (7 ft.).

14.91 Records of the committee that do not fit into the bill file or petition and memorial series are included in the catchall series committee papers. It may contain correspondence; communications and reports from the President, executive agencies, and nongovernment organizations incorporated by Congress; transcripts of public and executive session hearings; minutes of full committee and subcommittee meetings; documents collected as evidence or as research material; committee administrative and financial records, memorandums, directives, working papers, and research material; subpoenas; speech files; clipping files; and other miscellaneous committee records.

14.92 Committee papers are arranged, for each Congress, under the full committee or the subcommittee of referral. Throughout most of the period under consideration, the committee had five standing subcommittees, designated by numbers. Each standing subcommittee had a special jurisdiction within the committee as follows:

Subcommittee Special Jurisdiction
#1 Immigration and naturalization
#2 Claims
#3 Patents, trademarks, copyrights, revision of laws
#4 Bankruptcy and reorganization
#5 Antitrust

14.93 In addition to the standing subcommittees, special subcommittees were appointed for limited periods to deal with specific problems.

14.94 Committee papers of the full committee (180 ft.) largely consist of executive communications, primarily the annual reports and special reports of agencies of the Federal Government and the annual reports of federally incorporated bodies that fall under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. Many of the executive communications for this period are special reports on the administration of the Federal Tort Claims Act by the Post Office, Defense, and Interior Departments, the Veterans Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other agencies. Committee calendars, which are generally included in the records of the committee after 1946, list all executive communications referred to the committee.

14.95 The records of Subcommittee #1 on immigration and naturalization (145 ft.), contain an alphabetical subcommittee correspondence file and a chronological reading file for most Congresses. The bulk of the records are case files concerning individuals requesting adjustments to their immigration status under certain sections of immigration acts--suspension of deportations, displaced persons, exclusion of certain aliens and admission of others in non-immigrant status, and various types of refugee problems. Sets of minutes of committee meetings include transcripts of hearings, memorandums, copies of legislation, and other pertinent material not included in the minutes found in the full committee records.

14.96 The activities of Subcommittee #2 on claims are documented by the collections of minutes of subcommittee meetings in the full committee files and by the series of claims bill files. The full committee files contain the minutes of meetings of Subcommittee #3 for the 84th-90th Congresses (1955-68) and Subcommittee #4 for the 86th-90th Congresses (1959-68). Files on bills referred to these subcommittees are filed in the public bill file series.

14.97 The records for Subcommittee #5 on antitrust and monopolies (193 ft.) are generally organized according to specific investigations or projects and not strictly by Congress. The subcommittee was established during the 81st Congress (1949-50) as the Subcommittee to Study Monopoly Power, and during the 82d Congress it formally became known as Subcommittee #5 with special jurisdiction over antitrust matters.

14.98 Records for Subcommittee #5 for the 81st Congress (24 ft.) consist of correspondence, memorandums, hearings, reports, and related papers pertaining to studies on iron and steel, newsprint, amendments to the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts, and antitrust proceedings terminated by consent judgments or pleas of nolo contendere. Records of the 82d Congress (35 ft.) pertain to aluminum, bank mergers, mobilization problems, oil, newsprint, organized baseball, and resale price. Similar collections for the 84th, 85th, and 86th Congresses (1955-60) include studies on oil pipelines, excise taxes, professional sports, AT&T, commercial aviation, shipping, the television industry, and government advisory groups, consultants, and WOCs (without compensation employees). A multi-Congress set of records for the 85th-90th Congresses, 1957-68, includes records pertaining to bank mergers, insurance, joint ventures, foreign commerce and diamonds, newspapers, and computers (57 ft.).

14.99 There are records for Special Subcommittees:

  • To Investigate Immigration and Naturalization Problems, 81st Congress, 1949-50 (2 ft.)
  • To Investigate the Justice Department, 82d-83d Congresses, 1951-54 (29 ft.)
  • On Submerged Lands, 84th Congress, 1955-56 (2 ft.)
  • On the International Court of Justice 86th Congress, 1959-60 (5 in.)
  • On State Taxation of Interstate Commerce, 87th-90th Congresses, 1961-68 (26 ft.)
  • On Reapportionment, 88th Congress, 1963-64 (2 ft.)
  • On Civil Rights, 89th Congress, 1965-66 (2 ft.)
  • On Judicial Behavior, 89th Congress, 1965-66 (4 ft.)

14.100 The enlarged jurisdiction of the committee after the 1946 reorganization is reflected in the size and character of its bill files. During the period just before the reorganization (67th-79th Congresses, 1921-46), the Judiciary Committee bill files average 11 feet per Congress, while the average for the post-reorganization period (80th-90th Congresses, 1947-69), is over 110 feet per Congress. The size of the bill files reflects the overall increase in the number of pieces of legislation referred to the committee. During the 78th Congress (1943- 44), 475 bills and resolutions were referred to the committee, producing 12 feet of bill files. By the 84th Congress (1955-56), these numbers increased to 6,032 pieces of legislation referred to the committee, producing 151 feet of bill files.

14.101 Most of the increase was due to the inclusion of private bills that had previously been referred to the Committees on War Claims, on Claims, and on Immigration and Naturalization. The 6,032 bills and resolutions referred during the 84th Congress included 3,847 on immigration and naturalization, 966 on private claims, 5 on patents, and 1,214 pieces of public legislation. All private bills and resolutions were referred to Subcommittee #1 or Subcommittee #2, which had special jurisdiction over immigration and naturalization and over claims, respectively. All public bill files were maintained in the full committee files, although they may have been referred to any one of the subcommittees.

14.102 The bill files for the 80th-90th Congresses are arranged by Congress and thereunder in three series: "public bills and resolutions," "claims," and, "immigration and naturalization legislation." The public bill files and immigration and naturalization bill files are arranged by bill type: House bills, House resolutions, House joint resolutions, House concurrent resolutions, Senate bills, Senate joint resolutions, and Senate concurrent resolutions, and thereunder by bill or resolution number. The claims bill files are arranged alphabetically by surnames of claimants.

Records of the Committee on the Judiciary, 91st-99th Congresses (1969-86)

14.103 The records of the Judiciary Committee are consistently among the most voluminous in the House. They are occasionally augmented by special collections of records relating to the activities of the committee regarding significant national events such as the Nixon Impeachment Investigation in the 93d Congress (484 ft.). The records relating to the impeachment consist of citizen mail (256 ft.), investigative files (224 ft.), index books, and publications of the committee.

14.104 Other extraordinary records are those of the investigations relating to the proposed impeachment of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, 92d Congress (8 ft.) and the nomination of Nelson Rockefeller (25 ft.) to be the Vice President of the United States; massive petition drives, such as those for the "gay bill of rights" (25 ft.) and the "family protection act" (13 ft.) from the 97th Congress; and by huge correspondence files, such as that concerning school busing and school prayer in the 92d Congress (16 ft.).

14.105 The records of the full Judiciary Committee are kept separate from those of the Judiciary Committee subcommittees. Full committee records usually include bill files; transcripts of full committee and subcommittee hearings; front office files, which include the administrative and financial records of the committee; and general counsel files, which include the petitions and memorials, reports of committees, and certain files relating to the duties of the chairperson.

14.106 The subcommittees of the Judiciary Committee each maintain at least one distinct series of permanently valuable records. The Immigration Subcommittee maintains three such series: Private immigration bill files, general subcommittee correspondence and subject files, and cases referred to the committee under sections 212(d) and 204 of the immigration statutes. The Subcommittee on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations maintained a series of private claims files along with the general subcommittee file. The Subcommittees on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice; on Crime; on Criminal Justice; and on Monopolies and Commercial Law, each of which retired a single series of subcommittee files. The Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights retired some rather large files on special subjects such as the Voting Rights Act, Revenue Sharing, and Drug Abuse. The names and special jurisdictions of the subcommittees changed over time, but the above is a general description of what the researcher will find in the records of the 1970's and 80's.

House Un-American Activities Committee, 1945-75 (2,058 feet)

14.107 Jurisdiction and History In 1945 the House Un-American Activities Committee was created as a permanent standing committee to replace the temporary Select Committee on Un-American Activities (the Dies Committee) that had existed since 1938. The committee was commonly known by its acronym HUAC until 1969, when its name was changed to the Committee on Internal Security. In 1975 the committee was abolished and its jurisdiction transferred to the Judiciary Committee.

14.108 The committee was authorized to "make from time to time investigations of (1) the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, (2) the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and attacks the principle or the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitution, and (3) all other questions in relation thereto that would aid Congress in any necessary remedial legislation."

14.109 Records The records of the committee consist of files for the following organizational units: Administrative Section (138 feet), Files and Reference Section (1,301 feet), Investigative Section (464 feet), Legal Section (139 feet), Research Section (3 feet), Finance Section (13 feet), and Editorial Section (139 feet). The Center's collection also includes the published hearings and reports of the committee.

14.110 The documentation of the committee covers the entire period of its existence. The early records of the committee include investigations into the activities of various trade union members, Hollywood screen actors, government employees, and others thought to be involved in communist espionage or Communist Party activities. During the 1960s and 1970s the records include information on the Communist Party in the United States, activities in the civil rights and anti-war movements, a major investigation of the Ku Klux Klan, and subversive influences in riots

14.111 Finding Aids The records are described in a 21-page inventory which is available from the Center.

14.112 Related Records Records of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS), 1951-76. This was the Senate counterpart of HUAC. House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938-45. Known as the Dies Committee, it was the direct predecessor of HUAC. Senate Permanent Investigation Subcommittee, still in existence. Under the chairmanship of Joseph McCarthy, the committee conducted its own subversive activities investigations and hearings in 1953-54. Special Committee Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and other Propaganda, 1934-35, known as the McCormack-Dickstein Committee. An early predecessor of HUAC. Senate Document 148, 84th Congress, 2d session, Congressional Investigations of Communism and Subversive Activities: Summary Index, 1918-1956, indexes the published hearings and reports of the many small investigations conducted by select, special, and subcommittees, as well as the major investigations of HUAC and SISS from 1918 to 1956.

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1 U.S. Congress, House, Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States, Ninetieth Congress, H. Doc. 529, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 1967, p. 347.

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.