Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 16: Civil Service

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

Table of Contents

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:
Committee on Reform in the Civil Service (1893-1924) and Committee on the Civil Service (1924-1946) History and Jurisdiction

16.25 The Committee on Reform in the Civil Service became a standing committee August 18, 1893, having been a select committee prior to that date. The committee's jurisdiction covered matters relating to "reform in the civil service," including the status, classification, and salaries of officers, clerks, and employees in the civil branches of Government; provisions for preference to sailors, soldiers, and marines seeking civil service employment; and the apportionment of civil service appointments among the States.

16.26 The committee had jurisdiction over matters relating to the Civil Service Commission, the Bureau of Efficiency, and alleged violations of civil service law, and it reported legislation relating to the repeal of the tenure of office act. In 1924 the name of the committee was shortened to Committee on the Civil Service, but the jurisdiction was not changed.

Records of the Committee on Reform in the Civil Service, 53d-68th Congresses (1893-1924) and the Committee on the Civil Service, 68th-79th Congresses (1924-1946)

Record TypeVolumeCongress (dates)
Minute Books11 vols.53d-58th (1893-1905), 60th (1907-09), 66th-68th (1919-25), 68th-71st (1923-31), 75th (1937-38)
Docket Books10 vols.53d-58th (1893-1905), 60th (1907-09), 66th-67th (1919-23), 68th-74th (1923-36)
Petitions & Memorials4 ft. 53d (1893-95), 55th-58th (1897-1905), 60th-61st (1907-11), 66th-67th (1919-23), 70th (1927-29), 75th-79th (1937-46)
Committee Papers30 ft.53d-58th (1893-1905), 60th-61st (1907-11), 63d (1913-15), 66th-70th (1919-29), 74th-79th (1935-46)
Bill Files8 ft.58th-60th (1903-9), 66th-70th (1919-29), 72d-79th (1931-46)
TOTAL:42 ft. and 21 vols. (2 ft.) 
Committee Records Summary Table

16.27 Minute books and docket books document committee activities for most of the years of its existence. In general, the minutes contain brief entries for each meeting of the committee. The minutes from the 58th Congress (1904-5), however, also contain committee prints of testimony on a proposed Federal Government retirement and pension plan given by individuals representing such organizations as the Committee on Superannuation of the National Civil Service Reform League. The docket books record the receipt of documents by the committee and their referral to subcommittees.

16.28 Some of the early petitions and memorials touch upon the veterans preference issue (56A-H26.1, 57A-H23.1, 70A-H2), but most relate to reclassification or retirement of federal employees. Almost 11 inches of printed petitions contain the signatures of 16,086 District of Columbia Federal workers requesting a retirement law based on a contributory plan (61A-H31.1). The so-called "Luhlbach" retirement bill which called for a 2.5 per cent deduction from employees salaries (66A-H17.1) and re-classification of Civil Service pay for teachers in Washington DC and in Indian Service Schools (67A-H19.1) also prompted petitions.

16.29 Salary rates defined under the Classification Act of 1923 generated a large number of memorials (70A-H2.4, 6 in.). Other subjects of concern included legislation providing for a 5-day week for Federal workers (75A-H3.3), the creation of a Civil Service Court of Appeals (75A-H3.1), civil service retirement (76A-H5.3), and the hearing and settlement of employee grievances (76A-H5.2).

16.30 The committee papers are not extensive before the 77th Congress (1941-42), totaling less than 2 feet. The bulk of these records consists of printed copies of bills, resolutions, and hearings, and copies of the annual reports of the Civil Service Commission, with occasional correspondence interspersed. Documents such as recommendations of the Personnel Classification Board (69A-F5.1) and lists of Government employees and their compensation (68A-F5.1) are also found among the records.

16.31 The remainder of the committee papers consists of estimates of departmental personnel requirements during the war years (78A-F5.1, 79A-F4.1 and F4.2, 6 ft.) and records pertaining to the committee's investigation of civilian employment in the Federal Government (77th-79th Congresses, 20 ft.).

16.32 The Civil Service Committee's investigation of civilian employment in the Federal Government was initiated by H.Res. 550 in the 77th Congress (1942) and was continued through the 79th Congress. It was a response to demands that Congress put a halt to the confusion, duplication of effort, mass hiring, and waste of public funds prevalent in Federal agencies involved in the all-out war effort. The records relating to the committee's investigation consist of general correspondence (12 ft.), transcripts of testimony (8 in.), administrative records (2 ft.), and records relating to investigations of various agencies and activities (13 ft.). A finding aid is available for the records of this investigation.

16.33 The bill files for this committee are generally sparse, consisting mostly of printed copies of bills, resolutions, and hearings. The bill files of several Congresses between 1907 and 1946 also contain correspondence, petitions and memorials, and other documents related to specific pieces of legislation (60A-D32, 66A-D27, 69A-D4, 76A-D5, 78A-D4, 79A-D6). The records from the 66th Congress (1919-21) include a petition from citizens of Washington, DC in support of H.R. 3149, a bill concerning the retirement of employees of the classified civil service (66A-D27), and those from the 73d Congress (1933-34) contain thousands of mimeographed letters and post-card petitions favoring passage of H.R. 6844, a bill that placed the special delivery messengers of the Post Office under the classified civil service (73A-D2).

16.34 With the outbreak of World War II the workload of the committee reflected the increased size of Government employment. The bill files from the 80th Congress contain over 80 bills and resolutions, including a large file on H.Res. 16, a resolution authorizing the committee to investigate the activities of various agencies and departments. The records of the committee's investigative staff working under the resolution are filed under the bill file for H.Res. 16 (79A-D6).

Related Records

16.35 Select committees on reform in the civil service were appointed in every Congress from the end of the Civil War until the standing committee was established. There are records from the select committees for the 42d, 45th through 47th, and 49th through 52d Congresses.

Table of Contents

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.