Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 23 Tennessee Valley Authority

Chapter 23. Records of the Joint Committees of Congress 1789-1968 (Record Group 128)

Table of Contents

The Joint Committees of Congress 1789-1989 (Record Group 128) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Joint Committee on the Tennessee Valley Authority (1938-39)

JC.077 The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created by Public Law 73- 17, approved May 18, 1933, to promote the social and economic welfare of the Tennessee Valley, an area encompassing parts of seven States. Through a series of dams and related programs, the TVA would generate and sell power, control floods and soil erosion, promote navigation, develop fertilizers, and encourage industry.

JC.078 In early 1938, Arthur E. Morgan, chairman of the three-man Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, charged that dissension existed among the board and that there had been inefficient and uneconomical administration of the TVA Act. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt held hearings on the matter in March and then removed Morgan.

JC.079 The Joint Committee on the Tennessee Valley Authority was created in the wake of these events on April 4, 1938 (S. J. Res. 277, 75th Cong.). The committee was directed to investigate the administration of the TVA Act, particularly "any interference or handicaps placed in the way of the prompt, efficient, and economical administration of [TVA's] functions by internal dissension." They were to investigate allegations of partiality to large corporations, interference with the Comptroller General's audits of the TVA, and dissipation of funds through extravagance and mismanagement, as well as activities of private power companies opposed to TVA and the possibility of the production of sodium nitrate at a lower price.

JC.080 Senator Vic Donahey of Ohio was elected chairman. Francis Biddle served as general counsel, Thomas A. Panter as chief engineer, and W. O. Heffernan as secretary. The committee held hearings in Washington, Knoxville, and Chattanooga at which 100 witnesses testified, including all three board directors.

JC.081 The records of the committee contain a good deal of duplicate material, reflecting the fact that they are comprised of separate files of the committee secretary, auditor, general counsel, assistant general counsel, and chief engineer, as well as the general files of the committee.

JC.082 Many types of documents appear among the records. There are minutes of committee meetings, some of which were held in executive session, as well as copies of the committee report (S. Doc. 56, 76th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 10308), the preliminary report (S. Doc. 22, 76th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 10315), hearings transcripts, and committee press releases. Correspondence, memorandums, and reports and data prepared for the committee by TVA divisions and others are among the records, along with weekly reports of the general counsel, chief engineer, and secretary. There are transcripts and summaries of testimony, as well as reports, exhibits, and witness statements relating to the committee's hearings. Many items retained for reference purposes are among the records, including a copy of the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the TVA, President Roosevelt's message dismissing Morgan, and a compilation of speeches and statements by Morgan. There are TVA pamphlets, bulletins, and reports, including a two-volume compilation of TVA administrative bulletins, as well as maps, plans, tables, and other documents relating to TVA projects and the Memphis and Chattanooga, TN, power systems. Administrative material of the committee among the records includes vouchers, ledgers, personnel files, and documents containing information on the committee's budget, equipment, and supplies.

JC.083 The records provide information on the activities and complaints of power companies opposed to the TVA program, complaints regarding TVA labor practices and land acquisitions, cooperation between TVA and State agencies, alleged changes made in TVA board minutes, and many other subjects relating to the TVA, including its board members and accounting methods. Also included is information on more general subjects, such as power rates, rural electrification, flood control, and regional conservation and development,

JC.084 A finding aid to the records of the committee and some informal notes listing folder titles of certain portions of files are available.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1989.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42) by Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989), and 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).