Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1910-1946 Air Accidents

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:

Select Committee to Investigate Air Accidents (1941-43)

Select Committee on:VolumeCongress (dates)
Investigate Air Accidents24 feet77th-78th (1941-43)

22.106 Beginning in the fall of 1940, a series of fatal accidents involving commercial aircraft appalled the public and led to demands for a thorough investigation. Accordingly, on March 12, 1941, the House created the Select Committee to Investigate Air Accidents to ascertain the facts about all aspects of the air accidents that occurred in 1940 and 1941. (This was later extended to encompass accidents in 1942.) The committee was given authority to investigate airplane construction, ground facilities, airline management and operations, laws and regulations, enforcement activities, airline liability, and other information necessary to enable the committee to recommend improvements. Jack Nichols of Oklahoma was appointed chairman.

22.107 The committee held executive hearings at the scenes of various accidents. Its findings and recommendations for actions to be taken by the airlines, Federal agencies, and Congress were presented to the House of Representatives in a series of reports. In addition, during the war years, the committee became an advocate for development of the civilian commercial aviation industry as a defense measure. The committee ended on May 12, 1942, with the submission of its last report.

22.108 Records of the committee include accident reports, photographs of plane crashes, and documents containing flight and maintenance data, as well as correspondence with Federal agencies, commercial airlines, and others. There are memorandums, exhibits, reference materials, stenographic notes, proofs of hearings testimony, and vouchers and other administrative records.

22.109 Subjects covered by the records include specific air accidents, manufacture of cargo and passenger planes, jurisdiction over the air space, liability for accidents, development and safety of commercial planes, and airline operations. Some records relate to a committee trip to Latin America in the fall of 1941.

22.110 There is a finding aid to the records of this committee.

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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.