Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 18 1969-1988

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Chapter 18. Records of Senate Select Committees, 1789-1988

Records of Senate Select and Special Committees, 1789-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Select Committees Since 1969 (Since the 91st Congress, 746 ft.)

18.184 There are legislative, investigative, and other records for the following committees: Special Committee on Aging (18 ft.); Select Committee on Ethics (52 ft.); Select Committee on Indian Affairs (13 ft.); Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (125 ft., see below); Select Committee to Study the Law Enforcement Activities of Components of the Department of Justice-the ABSCAM Investigation (42 ft.); Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs (10 ft.); Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (435 ft., see below); Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (11 ft.); Select Committee on Small Business (see Committee on Small Business, para. 22.27); Select Committee on Standards and Conduct (32 ft.); Temporary Select Committee to Study the Senate Committee System (3 ft.); and Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers (23 ft.).

Records of Special Interest:

Records of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (February 7, 1973)

18.185 These records document the activities and investigations of the so-called Senate Watergate or Ervin Committee (after its chairman, Samuel J. Ervin, Jr., of North Carolina). The committee was established by S. Res. 60, 93rd Cong., approved February 7, 1973, to investigate illegal and improper activities alleged to have occurred during the 1972 Presidential campaign and election. The committee concluded its investigation on June 27, 1974, and pursuant to S. Res. 369, 93rd Cong., transferred its records to the Library of Congress for safekeeping and preservation. The Library of Congress arranged, boxed, described, and stored the records, and in 1980's as authorized by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, transferred the records to the National Archives.

18.186 The records (435 ft.) include the following series: Administrative files, consisting of staff travel and expense records, and personnel material; staff files, consisting of subject and case files of lawyers, investigators, and research assistants; security files, which are similar to the staff files, but were maintained separately; financial records obtained during the investigation; general files, including hearing exhibits, copies of the final report, newspaper clippings, and subpoenas, among other records; computer tapes; oversize items; transcripts of executive and public sessions; 104 rolls of negative 16mm microfilm; and 198 sound recordings. The Library of Congress prepared a shelf list for the records. A more detailed name index to the records is also available. Access to the records is not governed by S. Res. 474, 96th Cong., but rather by S. Res. 393, 96th Cong. The access rules are specified in the report on this resolution (S. Rpt. 647, 96th Cong, 2nd see., Serial 13322).

Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (January 6, 1987)

18.187 One of the most recent major accessions of Senate records transferred to the National Archives has come from the Select Committee on Secret Military Assistant to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, also known as the Senate Iran-Contra Committee. The Senate established the committee by its approval of S. Res. 23, 100th Cong., on January 6, 1987, to investigate arms sales to Iran, the possible diversion of funds to the Contra, violations of Federal law, and the involvement of National Security Council (NSC) staff in the conduct of foreign policy. This investigation was conducted jointly with the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran.

18.188 The Senate committee's most sensitive records are physically in the National Archives building but remain under the administrative control of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Less sensitive records are under the administrative control of the National Archives (125 ft.), but only a portion of these--the public hearings transcripts, hearing exhibits, the final report, press release, newspaper clippings, videotapes of the hearings, and previously declassified documents--are accessible to the public. Questions regarding access to committee records other than those already in the public domain should be directed to the Senate's Office of Legal Counsel.

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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.