Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 17: Roads

Chapter 17. Records of the Public Works Committees

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Records of the Committees Relating to Public Works (1815-1988) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee records described in this chapter.
Records of the Committee on Roads (1913-46) History and Jurisdiction

17.55 The Committee on Roads was created in 1913 with jurisdiction over matters relating "to the construction or maintenance of roads, other than appropriations therefore.''1 The statement outlining the committee's jurisdiction contained the proviso that measures for specific roads could not be included in bills for general legislation, nor could any bill relating to a specific road "embrace a provision in relation to any other specific road."2 During the first decade of its existence, the committee reported bills authorizing aid to the States in the construction of rural post roads, and with the 1921 Federal Highway Act in the construction and maintenance of highways, forest roads, trails, and rural post roads. Under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the committee was disbanded and its jurisdiction included in those of the new Committee on Public Works.

Records of the Committee on Roads (1913-46)

Record TypeVolumeCongresses (Dates)
Minute Books3 vols.63rd-64th (1913-17), 71st (1929-31)
Docket Books4 vols.63rd-64th (1913-17), 66th-71st (1919-31)
Petitions and Memorials3 in.63rd-64th (1913-17), 66th-68th (1919-25), 71st (1929-31), 74th (1935-36), 76th (1939-41), 78th-79th (1943-46)
Committee Papers3 ft.66th-71sth (1919-31), 73nd-79th (1933-46)
Bill Files2 ft.64th (1915-17), 66th (1919-21), 68th-71st (1923-31), 73rd-79th (1933-46)
TOTAL:5 ft. and 7 vols.
(7 in.)
Committee Records Summary Table

17.56 Minute books exist for three Congresses only. Entries are typewritten on sheets that have been pasted into the volumes. The minutes record who was present and what was discussed, but lack substantive details.

17.57 Separate docket books exist for the 63d (1913-15) and the 64th (1915-17) Congresses. Two additional volumes contain docket entries for the 66th-71st Congresses (1919-1931) and the 70th-71st Congresses (1927-31). Duplicate entries exist for the 70th and 71st Congresses in the last two volumes. Entries are arranged by type of measure (H.R., H.J. Res., etc.) and thereunder in numerical order.

17.58 Petitions and memorials from the 63d (1913-15) and 66th (1919-21) Congresses (63A-H27.1, 66A-H19.1, 66A-H19.2, 66A-H19.3) account for more than half of the documents in this series. The majority of these petitions and memorials are resolutions from county and State officials calling either for the establishment of a national system of roads or Federal aid to states in the construction of roads.

17.59 In general, committee papers contain the types of documents usually found in bill files: collections of printed copies of bills, some printed hearings, and occasional support documentation. Topics covered include legislative proposals for Federal highway aid, 1923-46 (68A-F37.1, 69A-F39.1, 70A-F30.2, 71A-F34.1, 74A-F35.1, 75A-F34.1, 76A-F38.1, 77A-F35.1, 78A-F34.1, 79A-F35.1); the extension of Federal highway aid to Alaska, 1923-46 (68A-F37.1, 73A-F26.1, 74A-F35.1, 75A-F34.1, 76A-F38.1, 79A-F35.1); the formation of the National Highway Commission, 1921-31 (67A-F37.1, 68A-F37.1, 71A-F34.1); compensation for money lost due to Federal funding on toll bridge routes, 1921-44 (76A-F38.1, 77A-F35.1, 78A-F34.1); and explanations of Federal funding on feeder, secondary, and farm-to-market roads, and on rural free delivery routes, 1937-42 (75A-F34.1, 76A-F38.1, 77A-F35.1). Nearly three-fourths of the total quantity of committee papers consists of a 12-volume set of aerial photographs for the Inter-American Highway, assembled in December 1933 by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (73A-F26.1).

17.60 The bill files are arranged numerically by type of legislation, and contain printed copies of bills, correspondence, and copies of hearings--sometimes manuscript transcripts and sometimes committee prints. Most of the bill files are for the 75th-78th Congresses (1937-1944). The main topic of committee interest, as documented by the bill files, was Federal aid for public highways, 1915-46 (64A-D22, 66A-D29, 68A-D32, 74A-D35, 75A-D34, 76A-D35, 77A-D35, 78A-D31, 79A-D34).

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1 Congressional Record, 63rd Cong., 1st sess., June 2, 1913, p. 1857.

2 Congressional Record, 63rd Cong., 1st sess., June 2, 1913, p. 1857.
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.