Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 24 Clerk of the House

Chapter 24. General Records of the House of Representatives, 1789-1968

Table of Contents

General Records of the House of Representatives, 1789-1968 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Records described in this chapter:
Records of the Office of the Clerk of the House, 1st-90th Congresses (1789-1968)
Record TypeVolumeCongresses (Dates)
Record Books161 ft.1st-90th (1789-1968)
Transcribed Reports from Executive Departments7 ft.1st-17th (1789-1823)
Transcribed Committee Reports16 ft.1st-35th (1789-1858)
Indexes5 in.1st-19th (1789-1826)
Political Committee Reports133 ft.62d-90th (1912-68)
Lobbying Reports40 ft.89th-90th (1965-68)
Other Records59 ft.2d-3d (1791-95), 8th-90th (1803-1968)
TOTAL:416 ft. (includes 1,357 vols.) 

24.26 The principal series of records maintained by the Office of the Clerk are record books which consist of 979 bound volumes. These volumes include House bill books, House resolution books, Senate bill books, petition books, ledgers, registers of papers sent to the Senate, registers of papers received from the Senate, registers of committee reports, Presidential messages, and executive communications. Nineteenth-century records also include orders of the day, contingent accounts of the Clerk's Office, and membership lists of standing and select committees.

24.27 Transcribed reports from executive departments consist of 39 bound volumes of copies of reports from the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy that were copied into bound volumes by employees of the Office of the Clerk. The individual volumes often contain records of more than one Congress. They contain the earliest reports to Congress from the departments, including such important documents as Alexander Hamilton's "Report on the Public Credit."

24.28 Transcribed committee reports comprise 81 bound volumes and are otherwise similar in format to the transcribed reports from executive departments, except for the type of document transcribed. Individual volumes may cover numerous Congresses; for example, among the records of the 10th Congress is a volume of transcribed committee reports of the Committee on the District of Columbia for the 10th Congress through the 27th Congress (1807-41). These volumes can be extraordinarily useful for certain types of research because they bring together all the reports of a committee for the early Congresses--before the reports were printed in the Congressional Serial Set. The transcription of committee reports was discontinued during the 1850's, with the last volume containing the reports of the Committee of Claims.

24.29 Indexes to transcribed committee reports and transcribed reports and communications from Executive Departments were maintained for a short time only, except for the transcribed reports of the Committee of Claims, which were indexed through the first session of the 19th Congress.

24.30 The political committee reports and the lobby reports are fairly recent additions to the responsibilities of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The Clerk maintains these two series of records for public inspection to document the use of money and influence in elections and in the legislative process. Political committee reports were first required by Sections 5 and 6 of an Act of June 25, 1910 (Public Law 61-274), providing for public statements listing contributors and the amounts they contributed to support candidates in Congressional elections. These reports detail receipts and expenditures of the major Democratic and Republican National Committees, minor party committees, State committees, and political committees of other associations and organizations; for example, the records for 1916 contain information on the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, the Socialist Party of Indiana, the Anti-Saloon League of America, and the Uptown Dry Goods Association of New York City, among others. In 1925, Congress enacted the Federal Corrupt Practices Act (Public Law 68-506, Title III); the act was actually part of the postal employees reclassification and compensation bill. Under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, any committee, association, or organization that accepts contributions or makes expenditures for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence the election of candidates or Presidential or Vice Presidential electors, subject to certain limitations, was required to report quarterly on its contributions and expenditures. Under these two laws, political committees have provided lists of contributors, showing the amounts contributed, and frequently the contributors' addresses. Expenditures are also itemized. Prior to 1947 and since 1966, the records are arranged alphabetically by name of organization; for the intervening years, the records are arranged by report number.

24.31 The lobby reports maintained by the Clerk are required by Title III of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (Public Law 79-601), the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act. This law requires that any person who engages himself for pay or for any consideration for the purpose of attempting to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation by Congress shall register with the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate and report on his activities in this regard. Although lobby reports have been required since 1946, the Clerk's collection of these registration statements at the National Archives is incomplete. An alphabetical index to lobbyists, 1946-65, and an index to report numbers, 1946-68, is available. The National Archives has a more complete series of lobbying reports, maintained by the Secretary of the Senate.

24.32 Under the heading other records are such sundry items as letter books of the Clerk, copies of telegrams sent by departmental telegraph lines, check stubs showing expenditures from the contingent fund, receipts for records withdrawn, a roster of news reporters filed with the Clerk, 1855 (33C-C4), and monthly reports of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation submitted to the Clerk of the House pursuant to statutory requirement, 1933-40 (73d-76th Congresses). Since 1947, the records include oaths of office taken by House members; applications by House members for leave of absence; messages of the President giving notice of his approval of certain bills and resolutions; veto messages of the President, along with accompanying enrolled bill; and numerous other items filed with the Clerk. Since 1955, these records are arranged by type of clerk (Journal Clerk, Reading Clerk, and Enrolling Clerk), and the documents filed thereunder reflect the duties of each position. Also included in this series are individual voting records of each Member, 1937-68, and vouchers for official reporters to committees, 1933-68.

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

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.