Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 16 Public Works

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Chapter 16. Records of the Committee on Public Works and Related Committees, 1820-1968

Records of the Committee on Public Works and Related Committees, 1820-1968 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Public Works, 1947-68

16.17. The Committee on Public Works was established by a provision of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, which greatly reduced the number of standing and select committees and in other respects reformed the committee system in both houses. The jurisdiction of the Public Works Committee was built on that of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, and included these legislative subjects: public buildings and occupied or improved grounds of the United States generally; measures relating to the purchase of sites and construction of post offices, customshouses, Federal courthouses, and Government buildings within the District of Columbia; measures relating to the Capitol Building and the Senate and House Office Buildings; measures relating to the buildings and grounds of the Botanic Gardens, Library of Congress, and Smithsonian Institution; and public reservations and parks within the District of Columbia, including Rock Creek Park and the National Zoological Park. To these areas of responsibility were added certain areas of jurisdiction formerly handled by the Committee on Commerce. These included flood control and improvement of rivers and harbors, public works for the benefit of navigation, bridges, dams, water power projects, and prevention of oil and other pollution of navigable waters. From the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, which itself was combined into a new committee with expanded responsibility, the Public Works Committee acquired jurisdiction over the construction and maintenance of Federal highways.

Records of the Full Committee

16.18. Among the records of the Committee on Public Works (105 ft.), the most comprehensive documentation of its activities is found in the legislative case files, 1947-68 (62 ft.). The committee maintained two separate arrangements of case files. One, arranged for each Congress by bill and resolution number, 1947-68, contains copies of bills and resolutions, official and public correspondence, and other records of legislation referred to the committee. These files may also contain amendments; records of conference committee deliberations; staff memoranda; committee reports, prints, and hearings; copies of hearing transcripts, including a few of executive sessions; executive communications proposing legislation; maps; and photographs. Most of the files prior to the 89th Congress (1965-66) are small and contain few of these record types. Files on such controversial subjects as the control of billboard advertising along interstate highways (S. 963, 85th Cong.), are larger because they contain more correspondence. In general, legislation referred to the committee after 1964 appears to be documented more thoroughly.

16.19. The second group of legislative case files, arranged by Congress and thereunder by docket number, covers all Congresses except the 87th and 88th (1961-64). This segment consists largely of printed bills, reports, hearings, and committee prints, but in some instances includes related correspondence, maps, and an unprinted transcript of a hearing. Also among these records are copies of legislative calendars, which contain docket numbers, and a few legislative case files of bills referred to the Committee on Commerce and the Committee on Public Roads in the 79th Congress.

16.20. Also referred to the committee were Presidential messages and executive communications, 1947-68 (10 ft.), arranged for each Congress by type of record and thereunder chronologically by date of referral. The records include annual and other periodic reports of the Tennessee Valley Authority, various power commissions, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Public Roads, and agencies concerned with public buildings and parks. Among these for the 81st Congress is a report and related papers concerning the Smithsonian Institution's proposed national air museum in 1949. For the 90th Congress, the number of messages, communications, and reports referred to the committee increased substantially.

16.21. Petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee, 1947-68 (2 ft.), are also among the records of the full committee. These concern various subjects and are arranged for each Congress chronologically by date referred.

16.22. Nomination files, 1947-68 (1 ft.), contain minimal information on executive appointees to such bodies as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Mississippi River Commission, the California Debris Commission, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and various regional commissions. Also referred to the committee are nominations for Administrators of the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Safety Administration in the Department of Transportation and of the Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce. The records are arranged by Congress, thereunder alphabetically by nominee, and include nomination reference and report forms, brief biographies, and, in some instances, printed hearings. Nomination files for the 90th Congress are filed together with similar records for the 91st-93d Congresses.

16.23. The records of the full committee also include watershed project files, 1957-68 (10 ft.), comprised of survey reports, work plans, and related correspondence, and reports of State estimates of costs under the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, 1966-67 (16 ft.). The estimates were sent to the committee by the Bureau of Public Roads. Both series are arranged by Congress and thereunder by State.

Records of Subcommittees

16.24. Documentation of subcommittee activities can often be found in the legislative case files of the full committee. However, the National Archives has separate series of records for two subcommittees.

Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution

16.25. The records, 1965 (10 in.), consist of correspondence, staff memoranda, and reference material accumulated in connection with public hearings held in various cities, June 2-24, 1965. The records are arranged by city and thereunder by subject.

Subcommittee on Roads

16.26. The records, 1967-70 (3 ft.), consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, and reference material. The records include papers of the chairman, Jennings Randolph of West Virginia, and the chief clerk and staff director, Richard B. Royce. Some of the files are arranged by subject and the remainder by State, except for the West Virginia file, which is included in the subject file. The primary subject of the records is the Federal interstate highway program.

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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.