Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1947-1968 Foreign Aid

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 on Foreign Aid (1947-48)

Select Committee on:VolumeCongress (dates)
Foreign Aid50 feet80th (1947-48)

22.138 Speaking at the commencement ceremonies of Harvard University in June 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall advised the war-torn countries of Europe to formulate a joint plan for reconstruction and pledged that the United States would cooperate to ensure its success. Policy makers in the United States had arrived at the conclusion that European recovery was in the Nation's self-interest. An intense, large-scale foreign aid program would be required.

22.139 In the House of Representatives, at least six standing committees claimed some jurisdiction over foreign aid issues and programs. Under the circumstances, a select committee whose membership represented each of these standing committees seemed the most likely means of producing a comprehensive analysis of the components of an effective foreign aid program.

22.140 On July 15, 1947, Christian A. Herter of Massachusetts introduced H. Res. 296, 80th Cong., providing for the appointment of a Select Committee on Foreign Aid to undertake a broad, indepth study that would give the U.S. Government the fundamental understanding necessary to launch an adequate and effective program of foreign aid. The committee was authorized to determine the present and future relief and rehabilitation requirements of foreign nations, the resources and facilities available to meet those needs, and related matters. Charles A. Eaton of New Jersey was appointed chairman of the 19-member committee. Herter served as vice chairman.

22.141 The committee began its task with a factfinding trip to Europe, where it separated into five subcommittees to study the various countries. They toured factories, shops, and homes, interviewing political, business, labor, and farm leaders. The committee also profited from reports and information supplied by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, and executive agencies. By the time it concluded its work in early May 1948, the committee had produced 24 preliminary reports and supplements in addition to its final report (H Rept. 1845, 80th Cong., 2d sess., Serial 11214).

22.142 Records include press releases, minutes of staff meetings, and correspondence and memorandums of committee members and staff, as well as memorandums and reports from Federal agencies, private groups, and international organizations and copies of the President's message on the Marshall plan. There are committee prints of preliminary staff studies on subjects of interest to the committee and some public preliminary reports of the committee. Among the informational materials are reports and transcripts of testimony of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, economic data and reports such as detailed statistical reports on the foreign trade of the United States from 1938 to 1947, and papers from the Brookings Institute and other private groups. There are also published bills and resolutions regarding foreign aid, with accompanying committee reports, and copies of some public laws of the 80th Congress.

22.143 Records document four of the subcommittees established at the time of the committee's European trip: those visiting France and the Low Countries; Germany; Italy, Greece, and Trieste; and the United Kingdom. The subcommittee records include reports from American diplomats and others, memorandums summarizing interviews with foreign officials, foreign publications, newspaper clippings, subcommittee minutes and memorandums of conferences, correspondence, and communications and reports from foreign governments about conditions in postwar Europe.

22.144 A variety of records relate to the Committee on European Economic Cooperation, which represented 16 European Nations and met in Paris to formulate a joint economic recovery program in accord with Marshall's suggestion. Included are copies of reports from various nations, dealing with economic conditions in their countries, and copies of State Department memorandums of conversations.

22.145 Personnel records, vouchers, and index cards comprising the mailing list of the select committee or referring to publications relevant to the inquiry are also included.

22.146 There is a finding aid to the records of the 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.