Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 16: Census

Chapter 16. Records of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and Its Predecessors

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Records of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and Its Predecessors from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee Records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on the Census, 1901-1946 History and Jurisdiction
Motion for the appointment of standing committees, 12/05/1816
"About time to measure yourself again?" Editorial Drawing by Clifford K. Berryman on the fourteenth U.S. Census, December 18, 1920, U.S. Senate Collection, from NARA's National Archives Catalog.  

16.36 The standing Committee on the Census was created in 1901 after having been a select committee for many years. The standing committee was established in anticipation of the creation of a permanent census office in 1902.1 Its jurisdiction included all proposed legislation concerning the census and the apportionment of Representatives.

16.37 The standing committee, and the select committees before it, reported bills providing for the collection of statistics concerning birth and deaths, marriage and divorce, farm mortgages, irrigation, and other subjects. It also reported legislation providing for the collection and publication of general statistics including those of the production of certain commodities such as cotton and grain. In 1946 the committee was abolished and its jurisdiction included in that of the new Post Office and Civil Service Committee.

Records of the Committee on the Census (1901-1946)


Record TypeVolumeCongress (dates)
Minute Books6 vols.57th-60th (1901-09), 76th-77th (1939-42)
Docket Books4 vols.57th-60th (1901-09)
Petitions & Memorials3 in.58th-62d (1903-13), 66th (1919-21), 76th (1939-41)
Committee Papers8 in.57th-61st (1901-11), 71st (1929-31), 74th (1935-36), 77th (1941-42)
Bill Files4 in.58th (1903-05), 63d (1913-15), 766th-67th (1919-23), 69th-70th (1925-29), 76th-77th (1939-42), 79th (1945-46)
TOTAL:15 in. and 10 vols. (6 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table

16.38 There are few records for this committee. For most Congresses only a handful of petitions and memorials, and copies of a few printed bills, resolutions, reports, and hearings have been preserved. For many Congresses no unprinted material has been preserved.

16.39 The minute books and docket books reflect the small number of pieces of legislation referred to the committee, and the infrequent meetings of the committee. The minutes list the names of individuals who appeared before the committee and some of the volumes contain vote tally sheets. The minutes of the first meeting of the committee on January 6, 1902 record the committee decision to report favorably H.R. 198, a bill to establish a permanent census bureau.

16.40 Few petitions and memorials that have been preserved for the 45-year history of the committee. The records from the early years of the century (1903-9) include appeals from the National Live Stock Association and the Utah Wool Growers Association for a classified census of livestock every ten years (58A-H3.1); an appeal from Otis Hammond and 14 others asking for an appropriation to compile and print the names from the 1790 census (59A-H3.1); and petitions from the National Brotherhood of Bookbinders, the Easton Typographical Union, and the Allied Printing Trades Council, protesting legislation that would allow the census to be printed on non-government presses, possibly opening the way for work by firms that did not meet union standards (60A-H5.2).

16.41 Generally, the subjects included in the jurisdiction of the Census Committee did not inspire heated debate, but several subjects did generate rather strong public reaction. A large roll petition contains the signatures of 2,735 Slovak citizens from Cleveland, OH, who protested that they were classed as Hungarians in the 1910 Federal census (61A-H4.2). The largest number of petitions received by this committee protested a 1908 bill, H.R. 7597, which would have allowed census employees to be hired without taking a competitive examination (60A-H5.3).

16.42 The committee papers files throughout the period usually consist only of prints of bills, resolutions, reports, and hearings. Documents of particular include minutes from a 1902 meeting of the Republican caucus on Mr. Edgar D. Crumpacker's resolution to appoint a select committee to investigate the suffrage laws of the several states (57A-F39.1) and correspondence relating to a 1910 investigation of census-taking in Puerto Rico (61A-F4.1). The records filed in the bill files are similar to those in the committee papers files.

Related Records

16.43 There are records of select committees on the census, for the 41st, 43d, 45th through 52d, and 55th Congresses (1869-99 with gaps) before the standing committee was established.

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1 U.S. Congress, Hinds' and Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, Volumes IV (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), p. 847.

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.