Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1910-1946 U.S. Shipping Board Operations

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 United States Shipping Board Operations (1919-21)

Select Committee on:VolumeCongress (dates)
United States Shipping Board Operations13 feet66th-67th (1919-21)

22.73 On September 7, 1916, the United States Shipping Board was established for the promotion of the American Merchant Marine and the regulation of foreign and domestic shipping. During the period of United States involvement in World War I, the Shipping Board, working through the Emergency Fleet Corporation, exercised emergency powers to fulfill wartime shipping requirements. In accomplishing its enormous task, the Shipping Board expended approximately one-tenth of every dollar spent on the war and encountered considerable criticism regarding costs, the awarding of contracts, commandeering of ships, and the postwar disposition of vessels. After the war, the suspicion was widespread that inefficiency and extravagance had prevailed in the conduct of wartime activities generally and the Shipping Board in particular.

22.74 On July 24, 1919, amid a highly-charged political atmosphere and in the face of angry opposition, the House established the Select Committee on United States Shipping Board Operations (66A-F40.1). Joseph Walsh of Massachusetts served as chairman. The committee began its work by holding hearings aboard a train en route from Spokane to Seattle. It later held hearings at Bellingham, WA; Seattle; Portland; San Francisco; New York City; and Washington, DC, and visited numerous plants and shipyards. The committee presented its report on March 2, 1921 (H. Rept. 1399, 66th Cong., 3d sess., Serial 7777).

22.75 The records include annotated copies of a report on investigations into many aspects of the Shipping Board's operations prepared for the committee by its clerk and statistician and his assistant, published and unpublished materials submitted to the committee, correspondence, investigative reports and papers, and personnel and other administrative records. There are exhibits relating to the reconditioning of the U.S.S. Leviathan for conversion from a troopship to a commercial passenger vessel, including blueprints, correspondence, and memorandums. Printed and typewritten transcripts of hearings, and typewritten minutes of the committee are also among the records.

22.76 A finding aid is available for 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.