Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 10 Treaty Files 1789-1968

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Chapter 10. Records of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 1816-1988

Records of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 1816-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Committee on Foreign Relations: Treaty Files, 1789-1968 (1st - 90th Congresses)
President John F. Kennedy message transmitting nuclear weapons test ban treaty. first page   President John F. Kennedy message transmitting nuclear weapons test ban treaty. last page
First and last pages from the Message of President John F. Kennedy transmitting a treaty signed at Moscow on August 5, 1963, banning all nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water, August 8, 1963 (Anson McCook Collection of Presidential Signatures, 1789-1975; originally SEN88B-B17) from NARA's National Archives Catalog  

10.4 Presidential messages--foreign relations ("treaty files"), 1789-1968 (89 ft.), include records of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the select committees that preceded it. This series comprises communications from the President on foreign relations that transmit treaties, except Indian treaties, and nontreaty messages on foreign relations; copies of the text of the treaty being transmitted; and committee executive reports on both bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions. Some files, particularly those of the 20th century, also include correspondence, exhibits, drafts and/or copies of conditions and stipulations, staff memorandums, and hearing transcripts. Since the early 1900's, Presidential messages on foreign relations that do not transmit treaties may be found in either the Foreign Relations Committee's committee papers (before 1947) or the Presidential messages and executive communications series (after 1947).

10.5 The following description applies to all records in the treaty series, whether the files were referred to early select committees or to the standing Committee on Foreign Relations after 1816.

10.6 The records are arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by name of country, except for the earliest Congresses, which are arranged chronologically. For later Congresses, records of multilateral treaties and conventions are filed separately from bilateral treaties, chronologically for each Congress. Each message (and accompanying treaty, if applicable) is assigned an alphabetical designation (e.g., Executive A, 23d Cong., 1st sess.) by which the treaty is identified in the Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Executive Journal), which summarizes actions taken on treaties and nominations and serves as an index to executive proceedings.

10.7 Treaty files that have been transferred to the National Archives are open to researchers. To supplement the Executive Journal, an unpublished finding aid to the records has been prepared by National Archives staff and is available at the National Archives.

10.8 Original and exchange copies of treaties are in Record Group 11, General Records of the U. S. Government, and texts of treaties and international agreements are published by the Department of State.

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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.