Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1910-1946

Chapter 22. Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives

Table of Contents

Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives (1789-1988) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee records described in this chapter:
Records of House Select Committees, 61st-79th Congresses (1910-1946)

22.61 The number of standing committees, many of which had evolved from select committees, peaked during the early years of the 20th century. The House continued to establish select committees during the period from 1910 to 1946; both individually and as a group, however, their jurisdiction was more restricted than it had been during the 19th century. Most commonly, the select committees were authorized to consider narrow topics that had caught the public's interest. The limited scope and popular appeal did not mean the issues raised were necessarily frivolous or insignificant. Some reflected important societal changes, the expansion of U.S. commercial and financial activity, and the impact of World War II.

22.62 The appointment of a select committee has never signaled an intention on the part of the House to pass legislation upon a particular topic, and this has been especially true in the 20th century. The main thrust of many select committees has been investigative rather than legislative.

22.63 Twentieth century advancements in technology and increasing governmental and economic complexity combined to account for a marked increase in the volume of records generated by individual committees. Because of the decreased numbers of select committees and the greater volume of records per committee, the records of each select or special committee of this period are described here separately, in order of the date of establishment of the committee. There are two exceptions. The records relating to the various committees on campaign expenditures, though filed as separate units and spanning the period from 1928 to 1964, are described collectively at the end of the next section. In addition, no description is provided for select committees whose records consist solely of copies of the committee publications.

Select CommitteeVolumeCongresses (Years)
Select Committee to Investigate Conditions Interfering with Interstate Commerce between the States of Illinois and Missouri2 ft.65th (1917-18)
Special Committee on Water Power4 in.65th-66th (1918-21)
Select Committee to Investigate Contracts and Expenditures Made by the War Department during the War110 ft.66th (1919-21)
Select Committee on United States Shipping Board Operations13 ft.66th-67th (1919-21)
Select Committee to Investigate the Preparation, Distribution, Sale, Payment, Retirement, Surrender, Cancellation, and Destruction of Government Bonds and Other Securities2 ft.68th (1924-25)
Select Committee of Inquiry into Operation of the United States Air Services21 ft.68th-69th (1924-25)
Select Committee on Conservation of Wildlife Resources9 ft.73rd-79th (1934-46)
Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities21 ft.73rd-74th (1934-35)
Select Committee to Investigate Real Estate Bondholders' Reorganizations247 ft.73rd-75th (1934-38)
Select Committee on Government Organization6 ft.75th-76th (1937-41)
Special Committee to Investigate the National Labor Relations Board91 ft.76th (1939-40)
Select Committee to Investigate Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens;
Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration
65 ft.76th-78th (1940-43)
Select Committee to Investigate Air Accidents24 ft.77th-78th (1941-43)
Select Committee to Investigate Acts of Executive Agencies beyond the Scope of Their Authority37 ft.78th-79th (1943-46)
Special Committee on Postwar Economic Policy and Planning1 ft.78th-79th (1944-46)
Select Committee on Post-War Military Policy10 ft.78th-79th (1944-46)
Select Committee to Investigate the Seizure of Montgomery Ward and Company1 ft.78th (1944)
Select Committee to Investigate the Federal Communications Commission 45 ft.78th (1943-45)
Select Committee to Investigate the Disposition of Surplus Property10 ft.79th (1946)
Committee Records Summary Table

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.