Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1910-1946 Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens

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 Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens (1940-41)

Select Committee to Investigate National Defense Migration (1941-43)

Select Committee on:VolumeCongress (dates)
National Defense Migration
(and Destitute Migration)
65 feet76th-78th (1940-43)

22.101 One of many profound effects of the economic troubles of the 1930's was the interstate migration of large numbers of people in search of employment. This mass movement in itself caused social and economic changes. On April 22, 1940, the House established the Select Committee to Investigate Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens to study the migration, the social and economic needs of the poor, and the existing government programs to meet those needs in order to gain better understanding of the situation and its implications and to aid Congress in enacting remedial legislation. John H. Tolan of California was appointed chairman. Between July 1940 and March 1941, the committee held public hearings in various regions of the country at which 371 witnesses testified; it presented its final report on April 3, 1941.

22.102 While conducting the study, the committee became aware of another large-scale migration that was occurring. Increasingly, workers were moving to manufacturing centers in search of employment in defense industries. Accordingly, on March 31, 1941, the House passed a resolution continuing the select committee under the title of Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration to study the ramifications of the defense-oriented migration. The committee conducted public hearings around the country from June 1941 to September 1942, including hearings on the West Coast in February and March 1942 to consider the problems inherent in the proposed relocation of enemy aliens and Japanese-Americans. The committee issued eight reports relating to national defense migration and the evacuation effort, culminating with the final report on January 8, 1943 (H. Rept. 3, 78th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 10760).

22.103 Records of the two committees were maintained as one unit, reflecting the continuity in membership and general subject matter rather than the change in name and focus. Included is correspondence with Federal agencies, Members of Congress, State Governors and other governmental officials, representatives of labor and welfare organizations, businessmen, farmers, and the general public. Memorandums, staff reports containing personal histories of workers, interview summaries, transcripts of hearings, and witness statements are also among the records, as well as drafts of committee reports and monographs prepared to supplement a committee report. There are newspaper clippings and other informational materials, maps and charts, press releases, and records regarding committee personnel.

22.104 Among the topics covered by the records are migration, settlement of indigent farm families in Brazil, agricultural workers, labor supply problems in Florida, and migration problems of specific locations. Subjects relating to World War II include evacuation of enemy aliens and others from the Pacific Coast, utilization of the Nation's industrial capacity in the defense effort, and shortages of community facilities in defense areas.

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

Return to Select Committees List

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.