Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 18

Records of Senate Select Committees

Committee records discussed in this chapter:

History and Jurisdiction

18.1 The Senate of the United States has always relied on committees as the best means to accomplish its work in an orderly, efficient, and expeditious manner. The first session of the Senate commenced on Monday, April 6, 1789, and the next day the Senate appointed its first two committees. The committee system is now thoroughly ingrained in Senate procedure, with the Senate rules establishing a full range of standing committees and assigning jurisdiction of all legislative issues among them.

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The Cluster Analysis Map is a map of Vietnam, overlaid with a grid system, upon which are plotted and marked by colored push-pins, the locations of live sightings. The map was created by the professional staff of the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs as part of an alternative type of analysis of sightings to that used by the Defense Intelligence Agency. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

18.2 Though committees have been an important part of the Senate from the beginning, the committee system itself has grown and evolved over the years. During the first few Congresses, there were no Senate standing committees, that is, permanent committees established to consider matters regarding a particular subject area. Instead, select committees, created to perform a specific function and expiring upon completion of that task, performed the overwhelming majority of the committee work for the Senate in the earliest Congresses. Though standing committees account for most committee activity today, select committees still have a place in the modern Senate. This chapter examines the records of select committees among the Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46. These records not only contain information about the individual committees to which they pertain, but, taken as a whole, they reveal the varied and changing roles that select committees have played in Senate history.

18.3 Because of the evolution of select committees and of their recordkeeping practices, the records of 18th-century select committees bear little resemblance to their 20th-century counterparts. For this reason, the chapter is divided into six chronological sections. The breaks between sections reflect changes in the committee structure of the Senate or, in one instance, in the records arrangement. The first section covers records of the period from 1789 to 1815 when the Senate had no standing committees to deal with legislative issues. The second section discusses records dating from 1815 to 1847. The break occurs because committee reports after 1847 are no longer filed by committee. The third section runs from 1847 to 1921, ending in the year that a major realignment of the Senate's committee structure went into effect. The fourth section covers the period from 1921 to 1946, the year of the seminal Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. The fifth section discusses the select committee records from 1947 to 1968, and the final section briefly describes records from 1969 until the original publication of this guide in 1989.

18.4 The six sections deal with the records in two different ways. The first three sections of the chapter consider the records of select committees during the time period as a whole, while the next two sections provide separate discussion of the records of each select committee. This is chiefly a reflection of the enormous expansion in the quantity of records pertaining to each committee after 1920. The last section lists those committee records at the National Archives with brief descriptions of the records of special interest.

18.5 The titles of some select committees are not capitalized. This follows the guidance of the Senate Journal and reflects the fluid manner in which select committees were created, served their function, and went out of existence in earlier years. Many committees were known by the date they were created or by a petition or other document that had been referred to them. In a number of instances, the Journal does not consistently refer to an individual committee by the same title.

18.6 Some 20th-century select committees are entitled special committees. However, these do not differ in any substantive way from the others.

18.7 Many select committees grew out of, or were absorbed by, standing committees. In addition, some select committees became standing committees. These facts should not be overlooked by the researcher wishing to do a complete search of the records of a particular subject.

18.8 For the records of some select committees, a finding aid is available. These finding aids are mentioned in the chapter and are listed in Appendix G. For guidance on other aids to research, consult An Introduction to Research in the Records of Congress, paying particular attention to the discussion of American State Papers, the Congressional Serial Set, Senate Journal, and Congressional Record and its predecessors. Certain records of select committees are included in National Archives microfilm publications. Consult Appendix H for information on these publications.

18.9 Finally, National Archives holdings do not include records for all of the select committees created by the Senate during any of the six time periods. In fact, less than half of all the select committees of the 18th and 19th centuries are represented.

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 1st-13th Congresses (1789-1815)

18.10 Virtually every Senate committee during the first 13 Congresses (1789-1815) was a select committee that automatically expired after completion of the specific task for which it had been appointed. A large number of committees resulted. In the second session of the Ninth Congress (1805-7), for example, 98 select committees helped the Senate accomplish its work.

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On May 18, 1789, the Senate adopted this report which outlined what information would be recorded in the Journals and how frequently they would be published. This report, from the Senate Committee for Directing How the Journals Should be Kept, states that the Journal should be published once per month (SEN1A-D1). RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

18.11 During these early years, select committees assisted and advised the Senate on myriad subjects and in a variety of ways. Committees might be directed to draft an address to the President, advise the Senate on what legislation might be required in response to a Presidential message to Congress, write a bill reflecting the consensus already reached during Senate debate on a subject, initiate a bill on a particular subject, or propose a legislative agenda for the coming Senate session.

18.12 Most committee reports from this early period differ markedly from modern Senate reports that explain the process and reasoning behind committee recommendations. An early report may consist merely of a draft of a bill, a list of proposed amendments, or an unelaborated comment, such as, "in their opinion the said bill ought to pass without amendment." The manuscript report may appear on a relatively standard sheet of paper or a small scrap of paper, or it may simply be written at the bottom of the loose paper record of the order by which the matter was referred to the committee. Some committee reports were also ordered to be printed.

18.13 The records of the Senate during this period are arranged by Congress and thereunder by types of documents. Two series of records relate most directly to the work of select committees during this period: Committee reports and papers (3 ft.); and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures (5 ft.). In the latter series, the documents are filed together regardless of whether or not they were referred to committee. Therefore, while most documents in the series pertain to the work of early select committees, that is not always the case.

18.14 The committee reports include both original manuscripts and printed copies. The reports relate to a broad range of topics, including private claims, public land, post offices and post roads, admission to statehood, naturalization, canals, violation of neutrality on the high seas, and the Embargo Act of 1807.

18.15 The petitions, memorials, and resolutions are arranged in part by subject matter. Petitions regarding claims appear in every one of the first 13 Congresses. Included is a petition from Thomas Paine, for example, asking for compensation in recognition of his service during the revolutionary era (10A-G1). There are petitions, memorials, and resolutions relating to a wide variety of issues, such as duties and drawbacks, foreign relations, patents and copyrights, and public lands.

18.16 Sundry other types of documents are among the records. Included is John Adams' farewell address to the Senate on the occasion of leaving the Vice-Presidency and becoming President, as well as his personally written and signed response to the Senate's reply to his address (4A-D1). There is a report on the petition of John De Neufville from Thomas Jefferson, acting in his capacity as Secretary of State, dated November 1792 (4A-D1). A letter from Stephen Decatur, James Biddle, and Jacob Jones offers their favorable opinion after examining "the model and plans of a vessel of war submitted ... by Robert Fulton" (13A-D1). A catalog detailing Col. William Tatham's collection of "official and original British, Spanish, and French military topographical surveys and manuscript maps of the American countries" is part of the papers accompanying the committee report on his offer to sell the collection to the Government (13A-D1).

18.17 A notable example of the variety of documents among the records is the documentation regarding the Senate's first contested election, that of Albert Gallatin. Included are the petition initiating the inquiry into his election (3A-G3), the reports from each of the two select committees to which the matter was referred, a statement of facts about the case, seven depositions, and Albert Gallatin's reply to the challenge (3A-D1).

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 14th-29th Congresses (1815-1847)

18.19 The practice of committing several bills involving one general subject to the same committee developed early in Senate history. In 1801, this practice was formalized in a standing rule: "When any subject or matter shall have been referred to a select committee, any other subject of a similar nature may, on motion, be referred to such committee."1 This practice led in 1816 to the adoption of a rule providing for the appointment of 11 standing committees each session, though the Senate continued to rely on select committees to accomplish much of its work.

18.20 The records of select committees of the Senate from 1815 to 1847 are found within two series: Committee reports and papers (3 ft.); and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures and related documents (3 ft.). Though many select committees of the period are not documented in these series, the records do reflect a representative cross section of the committees.

18.21 The records contain examples of many of the types of documents received or created by select committees of the period. Both manuscript and printed versions of committee reports appear among the records. Sometimes these have markings that reveal changes made during or after committee consideration. For example, the file of a select committee on proposed Senate rules contains both a manuscript copy of its report of December 27, 1827, and a printed copy of the proposed Senate rules that has been altered by hand to reflect subsequent debate on the Senate floor (20A-D14).

18.23 Many of the select committee documents were received from sources outside the Federal Government. These include petitions, in either manuscript or printed form, sent by a private individual (16A-G15), an organization (15A-G12), or a group of people (19A-G16). There are also memorials of State legislatures and others among the records (20A-G18, 21A-G20). Letters from artist Rembrandt Peale seeking a congressional commission for an equestrian portrait of George Washington (18A-D14) and letters from local Washington printers Blair & Rives, Jonathan Elliott, and Joseph Gales, Jr., commenting on a proposal that the Senate undertake publication of a complete transcript of its proceedings (27A-D20), are examples of the correspondence from private citizens that is distributed throughout the records.

18.23 Indications of the various ways in which select committees gathered data are provided by such documents as the sworn deposition of Charles Bulfinch of Boston, formerly Architect of the Capitol, regarding the privately funded expeditions in 1787 and 1792 that led to discovery of the Columbia River (25A-D19); a report from the Department of the Treasury regarding repairs of the Cumberland Road (17A-D14); annual reports of the Louisville and Portland Canal Company (20A-D14); and copies of newspapers relating to the contested Senate election in New Jersey in 1828 (20A-D14). Journals document the proceedings of the 1838 select committee to investigate corruption charges against Senator John Ruggles of Maine relating to a patent application (25A-D19) and of the 1830-31 Select Committee on the Condition of the Post Office Department. There are also transcripts of hearings of the latter committee (21A-D17).

18.24 The assorted papers of the Select Committee on Proposed Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, filed under the date January 9, 1824, document various procedural matters, since they include the resolution creating the committee, the order referring the question to the committee, an order to add two additional members, and a call for a committee meeting. There is also a document that apparently includes the tally of committee votes regarding a constitutional amendment on the elections of President and Vice President, responding to such questions as whether a President should be able to serve a third term (18A-D14).

18.25 The records concern a wide variety of the issues dealt with by select committees of the day. Some relate to such Federal Government activities as apportionment (22A-D17), operating expenses (16A-D13), salaries (14A-D9), and patronage (19A-D16, 23A-D18). Others concern specific Government agencies or officials, such as the papers regarding losses sustained when the Patent Office burned in December 1836 (24A-D18), the papers about and a color drawing of a proposed reporters' gallery for the Senate (27A-D20), and the papers of an investigation of corruption charges against certain Senators in connection with the Oregon boundary dispute (29A-D19).

18.26 Documents of some select committees of the period deal with issues relating to the States, such as the western boundary of Arkansas (18A-D14), the 1833 census of Arkansas (23A-D18), and the assumption of State debts by the Federal Government (26A-D18). Various select committees considered admission of territories to statehood, and the constitution that Alabama submitted with its petition for statehood is among the records (16A-G15).

18.27 Numerous documents concern canals (18A-D14, 18A-G14), the Cumberland Road (19A-D16, 20A-G18), sale of public lands (24A-D18), and other matters pertaining to the internal development of the country. Developments in commerce and industry are reflected in documents of select committees dealing with such issues as duties (21A-D19, 20A-G18), copyrights and patents (25A-D19, 29A-G25), and the Bank of the United States (22A-D17, 27A-G23). An example is the 1837 petition from American authors regarding copyright laws that includes the signatures of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Samuel F.B. Morse (24A-G18). Miscellaneous other topics include French spoliation claims that arose from injuries to American commerce during the 1790's (20A-D14, 22A-D17, 19A-G16), an assassination attempt on President Andrew Jackson (23A-D18), claims for restitution for losses suffered by persons convicted under the Sedition Act (16A-D13, 16A-G15, 18A-D14, 18A-G15), and a special land grant for Martha Randolph, daughter of Thomas Jefferson (22A-D17).

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 30th-66th Congresses (1847-1921)

18.28 Among the records of the Senate from 1847 to 1921 are two series arranged by committee that include select committee records: Committee papers (9 ft.) 2; and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures and related documents (26 ft.). These records touch upon many of the political, economic, social, and diplomatic issues facing the Nation during the time period.

18.29 The Senate created several select committees to deal with issues and events relating to slavery, the Civil War, and the postwar South. There are records for several of these committees, including the select committee to investigate the invasion and seizure of the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, VA (36A-E16), the special committee of 13 that was established in response to President James Buchanan's message of December 1860 regarding the sectional strife (36A-H20), the select committee on a bill to confiscate the property and free the slaves of rebels (37A-H18), and the select committee on slavery and freedmen (38A-H20).

18.30 The majority of the records are petitions and memorials reflecting the attitude of the public on various aspects of the sectional conflict. Many antislavery petitions reflect a mass petition drive of which Susan B. Anthony was one of the chief organizers. The records of the committee on Harpers Ferry contain the widest variety of types of documents, including committee reports, transcripts of hearings, correspondence, newspapers, the committee journal, and various administrative records. Many of the documents relate to the committee's efforts to compel testimony and to obtain documents.

18.31 Some of the political and social effects of the Civil War are reflected in the records of the select committee on removal of political disabilities (41A-H27, 42A-E22, 42A-H30) that resulted from section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under the provisions of that section, political disabilities were imposed on anyone who, as a legislator or officer of the Federal Government or one of the State governments, had taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, but who had subsequently supported the Confederacy. Such persons were barred from holding any State or Federal office. Section 3 concludes: "But Congress may by vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."

18.32 In the Senate, the Committee on the Judiciary originally had jurisdiction over removal of political disabilities, but a select committee was appointed on March 20, 1869, when the task proved too burdensome for the standing committee. The records include petitions, mostly from former rebels regarding their individual cases, as well as correspondence for or against certain removals. Some applications for removal aroused considerable controversy. The application of Thomas Hardeman, Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee of Georgia, generated letters, affidavits, and petitions. Many of these refer to an incident at the polls in Macon, GA, on October 2, 1872, that resulted in the death of 7 blacks and the wounding of 30 others.

18.33 Various select committees that considered private claims are represented in the records. In February 1852, the Senate established a select committee to consider the various memorials that had been received from persons dissatisfied with decisions of the Board of Commissioners on the claims against Mexico. The Board of Commissioners, set up in 1849 in accordance with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, considered claims of U.S. citizens against the Republic of Mexico and awarded more than $3 million to claimants. Many claimants, however, were dissatisfied with the Board's decisions and complained in memorials to Congress; 63 such memorials were referred to the select committee. The committee records include depositions, transcripts of hearings, ledgers, exhibits, correspondence, petitions, memorials, and the committee journal. There is also a journal and other documents of the commission that was sent by the select committee to Mexico to investigate the claims of George A. Gardiner and John H. Mears (32A-H24, 33A-E19). Some documents are in Spanish.

18.34 Papers of the select committee to inquire into the claims of citizens of the United States against the Government of Nicaragua include depositions and other documents regarding various complaints about incidents that occurred during the 1850's, including insults, threats, robbery, false arrest, and murder (46A-E25, 47A-E25).

18.35 Records of select committees on Indian depredations also include documents on individual cases, most notably that of Amanda M. Fletcher Cook, who had been captured by Indians in Wyoming Territory. In addition, there are petitions from groups of people asking Congress to appropriate funds to pay the claims involving Indian depredations (51A-F30, 51A-J29, 52A-F27).

18.36 During this period, the Senate established some select committees to investigate charges of impropriety on the part of Federal contractors, officials, or others. The select committee of inquiry into abuses, bribery, or fraud in the prosecution of claims, etc., established August 6, 1852, examined the construction of lighthouses on the Pacific coast, extension of the U.S. Capitol, agencies for influencing the legislation of Congress, and the census office. The select committee undertook each of these investigations in response to charges that certain persons had profited improperly from Government activities. Records of the committee include the manuscript copy of the committee report and appendixes, documents submitted to the committee, subpoenas, transcripts of interviews, correspondence, and the committee journal (32A-E17).

18.37 The select committee to investigate charges against J. R. Bartlett, U.S. Commissioner to run and mark the boundary between the United States and Mexico, was established on August 17, 1852. Bartlett was charged with using Government transportation for private purposes and with mismanagement of the public interest and funds. The transcript of committee proceedings, ledgers and payrolls relating to the subject of the investigation, and correspondence, including Bartlett's reply to the charges, are among the records (32A-E18).

18.38 The select committee to investigate the accounts, books, and statements of the Treasury Department was established November 19, 1877, to investigate discrepancies in the annual statements of expenditures, revenue collected, and the public debt. The records include correspondence between the committee and various Federal agencies, reports of examiners sent to review books and accounts of U.S. Assistant Treasurers outside of Washington, ledgers, a register of correspondence with executive departments, notes, transcriptions of certain relevant historical documents, and minutes of committee meetings (46A-E29).

18.39 Senate resolutions, the committee report, subpoenas, correspondence, affidavits, photographs, copies of newspapers, court transcripts, and other documents are among the records of the select committee appointed to investigate corruption charges against Nebraska Senator Charles H. Dietrich in connection with the new post office at Hastings, NE, and the appointment of its postmaster (58A-F31).

18.40 Many of the select committee records of the period pertain to social issues or events. Concern about epidemic diseases, especially yellow fever, is reflected in records of certain select committees dating from 1853 to 1885. The earliest such select committee for which there are records was established in December 1853 at the urging of New York Senator Hamilton Fish to consider the causes and extent of sickness on board emigrant ships. Its records touch upon such issues as the relationship between cholera and the drinking of rain water, the proposal to require the presence of physicians on board the vessels, and the measurements of the ships (33A-H24).

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Petition signed by Thomas A. Edison and 49 others of Orange, New Jersey, praying for the repeal of the act closing the World's Columbian Exposition on Sundays, dated January 4, 1893. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

18.41 In the late 1870's, the select committee to investigate and report the best means of preventing the introduction and spread of epidemic diseases sent a circular letter to practicing physicians to ascertain their views on the subject. The replies are among the records (46A-E24). A number of select committee documents pertain to the establishment, funding, and activities of the National Board of Health. They come from a variety of sources, including the Board itself, State and local boards of health, medical societies, and private citizens (45A-H26, 46A-H27, 48A-E25). Geographical patterns of disease in the District of Columbia and proposals for alleviating them are considered in the records of the select committee to investigate and report on the condition of the Potomac riverfront in Washington (47A-E29).

18.42 The records of the select committee on woman suffrage date from 1881 to 1909. The documents include some letters, memorials, and printed materials, but most are petitions in favor of a constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote. Many States are represented. Occasionally there are petitions or cover letters from such leaders in the movement as Lucy Stone (47A-H31), Susan B. Anthony, Belva Lockwood (first woman candidate for President), and Frances E. Willard and other officers of the National Women's Christian Temperance Union (48A-H29). A letter from Rev. B. Lounsbury outlines reasons for his opposition to woman suffrage (50A-F30). Narrower topics, such as provisions of the proposed territorial constitution for Hawaii (55A-J36), are discussed in a few of the documents.

18.43 Celebrations and expositions commemorating historic events, such as the discovery of America (50A-F27, 50A-J29, 52A-F28) and the founding of Jamestown (59A-J108), or promoting geographic regions, such as the trans-Mississippi (54A-J38) and Alaska (60A-J126), became popular in the late 19th century. Select committee records dating from 1887 to 1909 document congressional involvement in these events. Senate bills and resolutions, reports from organizing commissions, resolutions submitted to Congress by various private groups, petitions, memorials, and correspondence attest to the effort and interest invested in these celebrations. The petitions sometimes promote a particular city as the site of a future exposition (51A-J33). Frequently, however, petitioners were concerned with other matters, such as Sunday closing of expositions, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquor to "prevent our nation from becoming a rumseller to the world," and managing the art department at the World's Columbian Exposition "according to the American standard of purity in art" (52A-J27). Frances E. Willard and Susan B. Anthony are among the petitioners who sought the appointment of women to the Board of Managers of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1892 (51A-J33).

18.44 Certain select committees during this period dealt with transportation or agricultural issues. The records of these committees are generally very sparse, but they include printed bills and committee reports, transcripts of hearings, petitions, and memorials. Levees on the Mississippi River (39A-H24, 43A-H27), Pacific railroads (33A-H25, 50A-F29, 50A-J30), a Nicaraguan canal (54A-J37, 55A-F31, 55A-J35), and the promotion of irrigation and reclamation of arid lands (51A-F31, 51A-J30) are among the subjects covered. The records of the select committee on transportation routes to the seaboard include testimony by the noted civil engineer James B. Eads regarding jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi and a proposed ship canal to connect the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays (45A-E22, 46A-E28), as well as a variety of petitions and memorials on water or land transportation issues (43A-H28, 44A-H28).

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 67th-79th Congresses (1921-1946)

18.45 Twentieth century advancements in technology, increasing governmental and economic complexity, and the employment of specialized committee staff combine to account for an enormous increase in the volume of records generated by individual committees during the period from 1921 to 1946. Because of their volume and complexity, the records of each select or special committee of this period are described here separately, in order of the date of establishment of the committees. There are two exceptions: The records relating to the various committees on campaign expenditures, though filed as separate units, are described collectively; and the records of five other committees, which comprise a combined total of approximately 1 linear foot, are described briefly at the end of this section under the heading "miscellaneous committees."

18.46 In the Senate, select investigative committees flourished during the period from 1921 to 1946. Such committees investigated Government agencies, Government contractors, industries, and important issues of national concern. A select investigative committee could not only perform a useful service but also provide an enormous boost to the personal reputation of its chairman, as evidenced by the remarkably successful Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program and its chairman, Harry S. Truman.

Select Committee on Investigation of the United States Veterans' Bureau (March 2, 1923)

18.47 The Select Committee on Investigation of the United States Veterans' Bureau (68A-F22) was established on March 2, 1923, in response to numerous complaints about improper treatment of disabled veterans or the survivors of deceased veterans and to charges of maladministration by the Bureau. Using a large network of volunteer lawyers, physicians, and other experts throughout the country, the committee investigated hundreds of individual cases and gathered information on hospitals and vocational training institutions that were providing services for disabled veterans. The committee drafted the World War Veterans' Act of 1924 (Public Law 68-242) that revised and consolidated the laws affecting the Veterans' Bureau.

18.48 The records of the committee (17 ft.) include correspondence, memorandums, individual case files, hearings transcripts, charts, reports, and other documents relating to individual cases or to overall Bureau policies and operations. There are also cross-reference slips, form letters, and file cards among the committee's records.

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Special Committee to Investigate Air Mail and Ocean Mail Contracts (February 25, 1933)

18.49 Early in the Great Depression, with the economy in shambles and the New Deal not yet begun, ocean mail and air mail contracts came under attack as examples of extravagant Government spending designed to benefit a chosen few. S. Doc. 210, 71st Cong., 2d sess., The Truth about the Postal Contracts under Title VI, Merchant Marine Act 1928 and Its Application as a Subsidy to Shipping, provided a comprehensive exposition of the allegations concerning the Government's ocean mail contracts. Written by a former official of the U. S. Shipping Board, S. Doc. 210 charged that ocean mail contracts amounted to excessive subsidies of U.S. merchant vessels, even though many ship owners were already being subsidized for the purchase of the vessels. In addition, the charge was made that postal contracts were frequently awarded without competitive bidding. Air mail contracts also were attacked as being tailored to help bankrupt or failing companies rather than to encourage competition.

18.50 In response to these allegations, the Special Committee to Investigate Air Mail and Ocean Mail Contracts (74A-F25) was established on February 25, 1933, with Hugo Black of Alabama as chairman, to investigate all such contracts and the "individuals, associations, partnerships, or corporations" involved. The committee's activity ceased after the submission of its preliminary report regarding ocean mail contracts on June 18, 1935.

18.51 The records of the committee (72 ft.) include extensive financial, operational, and organizational information that individuals and companies involved with ocean or air mail contracts were required to furnish during the course of the investigation. Data from Federal income tax returns are among the records, as well as correspondence, investigative memorandums, notes, reports, vouchers, and subpoenas. Copies of the committee's published hearings and prints are included, as well as transcripts of the separate hearings regarding ocean mail contracts that were held in 1934 by the Postmaster General. Additional material received from the Post Office Department, historical information on various ocean mail routes, speeches by Black, and various news clippings are also included.

18.52 A finding aid is available for the records of this committee.

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Special Committee to Investigate Receivership and Bankruptcy Proceedings in the Courts of the United States (June 13, 1933)

18.53 The large number of bankruptcies during the depression years, as well as the widespread perception that the interests of creditors were often disregarded in the proceedings, prompted the establishment of the Special Committee to Investigate Receivership and Bankruptcy Proceedings in the Courts of the United States (75A-F24). The committee, which was created by S. Res. 78 on June 13, 1933, and continued until 1938, was authorized to conduct its investigation "with particular reference to the appointment of receivers and trustees in bankruptcy in such proceedings, and the fees received in the course of such administration, and generally of all matters concerning which information would be desirable in order to correct by legislation such abuses as may be found."

18.54 Henry F. Ashurst of Arizona served as the original chairman. He later resigned and was succeeded by William G. McAdoo of California. The committee identified abuses and inequities in the existing system regarding receivership and bankruptcy proceedings. When Congress drafted legislation to revise bankruptcy and receivership laws, the special committee played an indirect role in the process by making material it had gathered available to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Securities and Exchange Commission and certain committees of the American Bar Association also were given access to some of the special committee's records.

18.55 The committee held hearings in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix; transcripts of these were printed in nine parts. In addition, the committee made detailed statistical surveys of all receivership cases heard in the Southern District of California during a 2-year period and of all cases involving section 77B of the Bankruptcy Act in the Southern District of New York during a 1-year period. The committee sent questionnaires or invitations to comment to Federal district judges, judges of circuit courts, lawyers active in reorganization practice, and other interested parties.

18.56 The records of the committee (17 ft.) include correspondence, minutes, memorandums, subpoenas and subpoena returns, published and unpublished hearings transcripts, and investigative reports. There are also reports or completed questionnaires from referees, receivers, and judges, as well as reports and court documents regarding certain corporations involved in bankruptcy or receivership proceedings, photostatic copies of income tax returns and audit returns, and newspaper clippings and other published materials used by the committee for reference purposes.

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Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry (April 12, 1934)

18.57 Continuing public disillusionment over the final outcome of World War I, distrust of those who had profited from the war, and dismay over the Great Depression created the atmosphere that led, on April 12, 1934, to Senate establishment of the Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry (74A-F27). The committee, chaired by Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, had broad authority to examine the structure and activities of the munitions industry, to investigate and report on controlling the traffic in munitions, to recommend legislation to "take the profit out of war," and to consider establishing a Government monopoly of arms manufacture.

18.58 The investigative staff, working from offices in Washington and New York City, functioned under the direction of committee secretary Stephen Raushenbush. Alger Hiss served as legal assistant to the committee. The committee held its first hearings in September 1934 and its final hearings in February 1936. There were 93 hearings in all, covering four topics: The munitions industry, bidding on Government contracts in the shipbuilding industry, war profits, and the background leading up to U.S. entry into World War I. The published records of the committee include hearings, reports, and prints, totaling almost 20,000 pages.

18.59 The records of the committee (160 ft.) reflect the work of both the Washington and New York offices and include documents subpoenaed or otherwise acquired by the committee from Government agencies (especially the Departments of State, Treasury, and War), munitions companies, shipbuilding firms, banks, and individuals. Information from income and profits tax returns of certain individuals and corporations was furnished to the committee by the Department of the Treasury and is among the records. Correspondence, memorandums, reports, case files, directives, briefs, printed informational materials, graphs and charts, as well as administrative records of the committee, are included. There are also minutes of meetings, both of the committee itself and of groups being investigated. Subjects covered include war profits, bidding on Government contracts, lobbying activities, and the period of neutrality preceding U.S. entry into World War I.

18.60 A finding aid is available for the records of this committee.

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Special Committee to Investigate the Administration of the Virgin Islands (March 13, 1935)

18.61 In response to complaints about Governor Paul M. Pearson's administration of the Virgin Islands, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes sent Paul Yates to serve as Pearson's administrative assistant. Yates eventually resigned and filed detailed charges of more than 60 incidents of maladministration or corruption in the Pearson government. Acting upon Yates' charges, the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs called for a special investigation. On March 13, 1935, the Special Committee to Investigate the Administration of the Virgin Islands (74A-F24) was established, with Millard Tydings of Maryland as chairman. During the course of the investigation, Governor Pearson resigned.

18.62 The records of the committee (8 ft.) include the charges made by Yates and an index and digest of the charges. There are also affidavits, transcripts of hearings, exhibits, investigative reports, correspondence, memorandums, working papers, and records concerning committee expenses. Included are documents obtained by subpoena from the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Department of Interior, and the Naval Radio Station at St. Thomas. Some of the correspondence was originally encoded and has been deciphered. A diary for the period from May 15 to June 6, 1935, details committee activities in the Virgin Islands.

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Special Committee to Investigate Production, Transportation, and Marketing of Wool (July 10, 1935)

18.63 The Special Committee to Investigate Production, Transportation, and Marketing of Wool (79A-F33) was established on July 10, 1935, by S. Res. 160. The committee was necessary, according to the resolution, because "proper methods of marketing wool are essential to the establishment and maintenance of the prosperity of the industry; and ... existing methods of marketing the wool crop have proved unsatisfactory to the wool producers of America."

18.64 Alva B. Adams of Colorado served as chairman of the committee until his death in December 1941. The committee dealt with such issues as concentration in the marketing phase of the wool industry, consignment problems, and estimates of shrinkage during cleaning of the wool. Adams suggested legislation designed to remedy the situation, but no bills were introduced before the onset of World War II interrupted the work of the committee.

18.65 The records (10 ft.) pertain only to the period from 1935 to 1938 when the committee made a comprehensive, 3-year, nationwide investigation of the wool industry. During this period, the committee sent questionnaires on technical and financial matters to wool dealers, manufacturers, and warehouses. It also examined the records of a number of important woolen mills and trade associations and, in 1938, held hearings relating to industry practices alleged to be harmful to growers.

18.66 Among the records are committee correspondence, memorandums and notes of chief investigator Earl S. Haskell and others, minutes of committee meetings, and financial records of the committee. The comprehensive staff report of January 4, 1938, "General Report on the Production, Transportation, and Marketing of Wool," is included along with accompanying exhibits and draft materials for the report. Also included are copies of correspondence and other documents from the files of companies, trade associations, or Government agencies that dealt with the wool industry, as well as reports and other materials on specific wool dealers and completed questionnaires. Charts, tables, and printed materials, including a newspaper issued as a spoof of the wool situation, also appear among the records.

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Special Committee to Investigate Lobbying Activities (July 11, 1935)

18.67 The Special Committee to Investigate Lobbying Activities (75A-F26) was established by S. Res. 165 on July 11, 1935, in reaction to an intensive mass lobbying effort by utility companies against the Wheeler-Rayburn Utility Holding Company Act. The committee was directed to investigate "all efforts to influence, encourage, promote, or retard legislation, directly or indirectly." The committee had the power and authority to investigate the finances and political contributions of any groups or individuals who had attempted to influence legislation or public contracts. The committee was also to investigate efforts to control "the sources and mediums of communication and information." Hugo Black served as chairman until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1937, when he was succeeded by Sherman Minton of Indiana. The committee continued until December 1940.

18.68 The voluminous records (120 ft.) include committee questionnaires completed by corporations and by individuals who had opposed the holding company bill, copies of income tax returns, correspondence files, administrative materials, and hearings transcripts. Case files created in connection with the lobbying investigation contain investigative memorandums and analyses, information regarding company finances, and copies of documents found in company files or supplied by a company on request. Other types of documents among the records of the committee include newspaper clippings, press releases, memorandums, notes, samples of documents relating to mass lobbying, annual reports, copies of subpoenaed telegrams, and documents concerning William Randolph Hearst's First Amendment challenge of the committee's right to subpoena his telegrams.

18.69 The records also contain certain correspondence files of Senators Black, Minton, and Lewis Schwellenbach of Washington. These files concern various topics, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "courtpacking" proposal, the Connery-Black wages and hours bill, and the holding company bill.

18.70 A finding aid is available for the records of this committee.

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Special Committee to Investigate Unemployment and Relief (June 10, 1937)

18.71 The Special Committee to Investigate Unemployment and Relief (75A-F27) was established on June 10, 1937, to study, survey, and investigate the problems of unemployment and relief. James F. Byrnes of South Carolina served as chairman.

18.72 The records of the committee, though scanty (6 in.), include documents relating to a variety of committee activities. One such activity was the compilation of tables of total costs of public relief, public assistance, Federal work programs, and emergency public works for the 5-year period, 1933-37. Explanatory notes for these tables are among the records. There are also records relating to the committee's study of the "security wage" in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in certain cities of the United States, a study that focused in part on private employment of workers during periods when they were employed on WPA projects. Also among the records is a summary of an opinion poll conducted by the committee regarding unemployment and relief policy and the impact of technology on unemployment. Correspondence, staff memorandums, printed materials, legislative drafts, and a few typewritten papers on pertinent topics, such as "Congressional Relief Programs: A Record of Action in the Congress of the United States, 1803-1933," are also among the records of the committee.

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Special Committee to Investigate Conditions in the American Merchant Marine (February 25, 1938)

18.73 During January and February 1938, the Senate Committees on Commerce and on Education and Labor held joint hearings on S. 3078, a bill to amend the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. Bitter charges made by witnesses during the hearings provided ample evidence of the serious labor-management conflict in the maritime industry, an industry that experienced 589 strikes from 1934 through 1938. The hearings raised concerns that the shipping industry was being victimized through racketeering by labor, exploitation by owners, and disruption by radical and criminal elements.

18.74 In light of these charges, the Special Committee to Investigate Conditions in the American Merchant Marine (76A-F25) was created by S. Res. 231 on February 25, 1938. The committee was given broad authority to "make a full and complete investigation of all matters relating to existing conditions in the American merchant marine." In practice, the committee limited its inquiry to matters affecting the labor-management relationship. The chairman of the Committee on Commerce served as chair of the special committee. Accordingly, Royal S. Copeland of New York served as chairman until his death when he was succeeded by Josiah W. Bailey of North Carolina.

18.75 The records of the committee (7 ft.) include unpublished transcripts of hearings before the Committee on Commerce regarding maritime labor unions and communist activities among seamen, replies to questionnaires from maritime employers and unions, statistical charts, printed materials, and news clippings, as well as correspondence with Federal agencies, steamship owners, maritime unions, and other interested parties. There are various staff memorandums and reports, such as the 1941-42 reports of James T. Broughton, the special committee's confidential representative, regarding labor conditions in the maritime industry in various ports around the country. Many of the records relate to the controversy over the possible deportation of Alfred Renton (Harry) Bridges, leader of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, as an alien engaged in subversive activities.

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Special Committee to Investigate the Administration and Operation of the Civil-Service Laws and the Classification Act of 1923 (April 1, 1938)

18.76 At the beginning of fiscal year 1938, 532,000 of the 841,000 Federal employees in the executive branch came under the merit system of the classified civil service. Congress was under considerable pressure to extend the system to include virtually all Federal Government positions except those involved in policy formation. At the same time, however, Members of Congress were besieged daily by civil service employees charging superiors with favoritism and other violations of the purpose and intent of the civil service law.

18.77 Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana became keenly interested in learning the truth of the situation. In a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, he analyzed the complaints that he had received from civil servants, citing problems regarding the methods used for rating job performance, awarding promotions, and administering reprimands. Ellender also introduced a resolution to establish a special committee to investigate the charges. The Committee on Civil Service agreed with Ellender's call for a special committee, referring in its report on the resolution to "a clique of 'bureaucratic czars' who ... have worked out a system of 'personal politics'" (Sen. Rept. 1311, 75th Cong., 3d sess.).

18.78 The Senate established the Special Committee to Investigate the Administration and Operation of the Civil-Service Laws and the Classification Act of 1923 (77A-F30) on April 1, 1938. Ellender served as chairman. The committee was authorized to determine "(1) the extent to which discrimination is practiced by appointing and supervisory officials with respect to appointments, promotions, [and] transfers, ... and (2) the adequacy of the opportunity for impartial hearing given to employees who are discriminated against" (S. Res. 198, 75th Cong.). The committee sent out thousands of questionnaires, held hearings, and even held unofficial mediation conferences to settle certain ongoing disputes. It also succeeded in shaping some sections of Public Law 76-880, an act extending the classified executive civil service of the United States. The committee continued until 1945.

18.79 The records of the committee (10 ft.) consist largely of correspondence and replies to questionnaires from civil servants or civil service applicants, as well as correspondence with Government agencies (most notably the Civil Service Commission) and other interested parties. There are also memorandums, materials relating to committee hearings, newspaper clippings, press releases, copies of relevant executive orders, cards detailing the Federal employment history of certain individuals, and publications of the Civil Service Commission and other printed materials.

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Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (March 1, 1941)

18.80 Between June 1 and December 1, 1940, as the nation viewed the war in Europe with growing alarm, the Federal Government awarded nearly $10.5 billion in defense-related contracts. Noting concerns that had developed regarding the awarding of these defense contracts and alleging that he had "never yet found a contractor who, if not watched, would not leave the Government holding the bag," 3 Harry S. Truman of Missouri introduced a resolution in early 1941 to establish a new special committee to monitor defense procurement and production so that corruption and waste could be averted and problems could be identified and resolved.

refer to caption

Letter from Mrs. G. K. Sparber to Senator Harry Truman Regarding the Defense Industry, dated October 6, 1943 (SEN79A-F30). RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

18.81 The Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (79A-F30) was created on March 1, 1941, to study and investigate procurement and manufacture or construction of articles and facilities needed for national defense. The committee was specifically directed to investigate the terms of defense-related contracts, the methods of awarding them, the utilization of small business concerns, the geographic distribution of contracts and facilities, and the effect on labor, as well as other matters. Truman served as the first chairman of the committee, which is commonly known as the Truman Committee.

18.82 The committee earned a high reputation for thoroughness and efficiency. From its creation in 1941 until its expiration in 1948, the committee held 432 public hearings and 300 executive sessions, went on hundreds of field trips, and issued 51 reports. Throughout World War II, the committee was principally concerned with monitoring and improving production programs, contract procedures, and, eventually, reconversion plans. Much of the committee's work involved the discovery and exposure of corruption and mismanagement in the wartime production program. After the end of the war, the committee turned its attention to an analysis of wartime experiences in order to make recommendations that would improve postwar and future national defense programs.

18.83 The media showered the committee with favorable publicity. Especially notable was the national attention brought to its first chairman, resulting in his selection as the running mate of President Roosevelt in 1944 and his subsequent succession to the Presidency.

18.84 The extensive records (775 ft.) are arranged in five major series: Administrative records, operational records, records of hearings, records relating to the preparation of committee reports, and public relations records. A subject-numerical filing scheme is used. The records are described at the series level in the National Archives Catalog.

18.85 Among the administrative records are correspondence, directives, memorandums, reports, ledgers, time sheets, vouchers, sample copies of forms, and other records. They deal with such topics as personnel matters, office procedures, staff assignments, and committee finances. 

18.86 The operational records form the core of the archival holdings from the committee, comprising 95 percent of the total volume. Correspondence, memorandums, replies to questionnaires, financial materials, contracts, reports, notes, charts, tables, exhibits, agency press releases, photographs, drawings, and news clippings are among the many types of documents included. The subjects represented in these records reflect the magnitude of the committee's investigation. There are records regarding manpower issues, such as training programs, military personnel, labor organizations, and the so-called "dollar-a-year men" who left important positions in the private sector to work for the Government for an annual salary of one dollar or no compensation at all. Other records deal with ships and shipbuilding, military establishments and facilities, shortages of material, reserve supplies of strategic and other materials, transportation, contracts and procurement, conversion and reconversion. Records dealing with such topics as food, housing, racial discrimination, war films, disposal of surplus property, war profiteering, lobbying of Government agencies by private enterprise, and specific charges of fraud and corruption indicate the breadth of the committee's interest. Some records concern committee trips around the globe or committee consideration of such issues as the treatment of prisoners of war and the military government in Germany. The records relate to many Federal agencies, most notably the War Department, Navy, U.S. Maritime Commission, and War Production Board.

18.87 The remaining committee records consist of separate files regarding specific committee activities. Records of hearings contain transcripts of both the 432 public and the approximately 300 executive sessions, as well as some digests of hearings and weekly indexes of proceedings. Records relating to the preparation of committee reports include original drafts, galley proofs, correspondence, memorandums, reports, completed questionnaires from former committee investigators, and other working papers used in preparing committee reports. Lastly, the public relations records consist of press releases, texts of speeches by committee members and staff, and pertinent speeches and statements by other Government officials.

18.88 A finding aid is available for the records of this committee. It is indexed and includes various appendixes consisting of lists of folder headings.

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Special Committee to Investigate Gasoline and Fuel-Oil Shortages (August 28, 1941)

18.89 Fear of impending gasoline scarcity along the Atlantic seaboard gripped the American public during the summer of 1941. Members of Congress were deluged with letters and telegrams from concerned constituents. In August, the Administrator of the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply ordered 10 percent cuts in supplier deliveries of gasoline to eastern States and the District of Columbia. Authorities cited the diversion of 50 petroleum tankers to the besieged British as the cause. They sought to quiet public concern with statements that the problem was only one of transportation and that the country had adequate oil and gasoline. These statements failed to stop the hoarding of gasoline and the deterioration of public confidence.

18.90 In response to the confusing situation, the Senate established the Special Committee to Investigate Gasoline and Fuel-Oil Shortages (78A-F31) on August 28, 1941. The committee, chaired by Francis T. Maloney of Connecticut, was to investigate the shortage of fuel in the various States, the methods of delivery, and the means to ensure an adequate supply for national defense without undue hardship to the private sector.

18.91 Information was drawn from many sources. The committee, which continued through 1944, held hearings at which various Government officials and representatives of business and industry offered their views. The committee also requested and received written information or comments from the governor and other appropriate officials of each State, Members of Congress, oil companies, railroads, and others.

18.92 The records of the committee (18 ft.) include correspondence with State and Federal officials or agencies, members of business and industry, and private citizens. There are also memorandums, staff reports, replies to questionnaires, tabulations of questionnaire returns, transcripts of hearings, press releases, newspaper clippings, and printed materials.

18.93 Among the subjects mentioned in the records are fuel oil, gasoline, coal, the rationing program and its problems, the shortage of rubber, and cooperation between military and civilian authorities. A major focus of the committee was the petroleum distribution system. Accordingly, many of the records relate to that topic.

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Special Committee Investigating Petroleum Resources (March 13, 1944)

18.94 In February 1944, the Petroleum Administrator for War, Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, announced that the Arabian-American Oil Co. would construct a refinery to produce petroleum war products for the Allied Nations, and that the U.S. Government would construct a petroleum pipeline from the Persian Gulf area to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and would obtain a crude oil petroleum reserve of one billion barrels in the Gulf area.

18.95 Concerned that this announcement constituted a major reorientation of foreign policy without congressional consideration or consultation, the Senate created the Select Committee Investigating Petroleum Resources (79A-F31) on March 13, 1944. The committee was instructed to "make a full and complete study and investigation with respect to petroleum resources, and the production and consumption of petroleum and its products, both within and outside the United States, in their relation to our national welfare and security, ... [and to report] its recommendations for the formulation of a nation petroleum policy" (S. Res. 253, 78th Cong.).

18.96 Francis T. Maloney served as chairman until his death on January 16, 1945, when he was succeeded by Joseph C. O'Mahoney of Wyoming. The 11 committee members included 2 each from the Committees on Foreign Relations, Interstate Commerce, Commerce, and Public Lands and Surveys.

18.97 The committee dealt with the pipeline proposal, certain questions regarding the Anglo-American Oil Agreement, the disposal of Government-owned pipelines and refineries as surplus properties, tidelands oil, and other issues related to petroleum supplies. It held hearings on such subjects as national petroleum requirements, new sources of petroleum in the United States, American petroleum interests in foreign countries, review of wartime petroleum policy, the Oil and Gas Division of the Interior Department, and international petroleum cartels.

18.98 The records of the committee (20 ft.) include transcripts of executive and public hearings, minutes of executive meetings of the committee, correspondence, witness statements, press releases, charts, tables, and photographs, as well as notes, memorandums, outlines, drafts, bill files, and other committee work papers. There is a variety of informational materials from agencies or private sources, such as agency publications, the minutes of the Anglo-American Conversations on Petroleum held by the two Governments in the summer of 1944 to discuss the future of the international oil trade, and part of a report on "American Petroleum Interests in Foreign Countries." The collection of news clippings covers such topics as Middle East oil, antitrust matters, the Canol Project to develop the Norman Wells oil field in northwest Canada, cartels, pipelines, tidelands oil, and international accords.

18.99 A finding aid is available for these records.

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Special Committee on Reconstruction of Senate Roof and Skylights and Remodeling of Senate Chamber (July 23, 1945)

18.100 In 1940 Congress authorized the reconstruction of the roofs over the Senate and House wings of the Capitol Building. Engineering surveys had disclosed that the 1850's cast iron and wrought iron roof trusses above the ceilings fell far short of modern safety requirements. Because of the war and the necessity for Congress to remain in continuous session, however, the permanent reconstruction work was not completed and unsightly temporary steel supports remained in the two chambers for 5 years.

18.101 In July 1945, Congress enacted additional legislation (Public Law 79-155) authorizing the replacement of the skylight portions of the roof areas with reinforced concrete roof slab and the cast iron and glass ceilings with acoustically treated plaster ceilings, and the installation of new indirect lighting systems. The 1945 act vested approval of the plans for remodeling the Senate and House Chambers in five Senators and five Representatives, who were specially appointed for the purpose. Charles O. Andrews of Florida served as chairman of the Senate committee until his death in September 1946 at which time William Chapman Revercomb of West Virginia assumed the position.

18.102 The records (3 in.) contain detailed minutes of committee meetings from July 28, 1945, to March 25, 1948, some of which were joint meetings with the committee from the House of Representatives, as well as minutes of certain meetings of the House committee only. Included are attachments to the minutes, such as reports from Architect of the Capitol David Lynn and various copies of correspondence. Other correspondence and lists regarding items removed during the reconstruction and remodeling in the Senate are also among the records.

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Special Committee on Atomic Energy (October 22, 1945)

18.103 On October 3, 1945, President Truman sent a message to Congress urging the enactment of legislation formulating a national policy for the development and control of atomic energy. The Senate approved S. Res. 179 on October 22 establishing the Special Committee on Atomic Energy (79A-F29) to study problems relating to the development, use, and control of atomic energy and to consider all bills and resolutions coming before the Senate proposing legislation relating to atomic energy. The resolution also specified that the committee would terminate at the end of that Congress.

18.104 Brien McMahon of Connecticut served as chairman of the 11-member committee. Dr. Edward U. Condon served as scientific adviser.

18.105 From November 27, 1945, through April 8, 1946, the committee heard nearly one million words of testimony from scientists, engineers, military officials, Cabinet members, and other witnesses in public and executive hearings. In executive session, the committee used S. 1717 as its working basis to develop proposals for legislation. S. 1717 incorporated many features discussed in the hearings, and the committee's version of the bill became, with relatively minor changes, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. The act created both the Atomic Energy Commission and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

18.106 The records (15 ft.) consist mainly of letters, telegrams, petitions, and resolutions from private citizens and organizations. There is also correspondence with members of the committee, Cabinet officers, and staff personnel. There are committee personnel records, transcripts of public hearings, the committee report, copies of the committee monograph Essential Information on Atomic Energy, the committee workbook, staff reports, charts, and various summaries and digests concerning the work of the committee. Speeches, press releases, articles, newspaper clippings, and other publications regarding atomic energy also are included. The records are described at the series level in the National Archives Catalog.

18.107 Among the subjects discussed are the testing of atomic weapons at Bikini Atoll, civilian versus military control of atomic energy on the national level, international control of atomic energy to further the cause of world peace, outlawing the use of atomic bombs, peaceful uses of atomic energy, and proposed legislation.

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Committees to Investigate Campaign Expenditures

refer to caption

This cartoon concerns issues of campaign irregularities that brought scandal in 1930. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, National Archives.

18.108 A feature of many election years during this period was a Senate special committee to investigate campaign expenditures. Such committees monitored senatorial campaigns and, when appropriate, Presidential and Vice-Presidential campaigns. Records of such committees exist, in widely varying quantities, relating to the elections of 1924, 1930, and every election year from 1936 to 1946 (68A-F21, 71A-F28, 74A-F26, 75A-F25, 76A-F26, 77A-F31, 78A-F30, 79A-F32). The largest collections concern the elections of 1938, 1940, and 1944.

18.109 The campaign expenditures committees generally received broad authority to investigate contributions and expenditures, as well as any other means used to influence campaigns. The committees systematically collected information and monitored campaign activities, often through the use of questionnaires directed to specific groups active in the election process. By this means, officials of State governments submitted lists of the candidates for election, candidates and political parties provided information on campaign receipts and expenditures, contributors responded to questions regarding Federal employment, the media answered queries about each candidate's expenditures on campaign advertising, and independent political and educational groups submitted answers to questions about their purposes and activities. The committees also compiled information on State election laws and Federal departmental regulations regarding political activity.

18.110 The work of the committees was not limited to the systematic collection of information. They also responded to numerous individual complaints or information brought to their attention by interested parties. If warranted, the committees held hearings and conducted investigations both in Washington and in the field.

18.111 The committees investigated a wide assortment of complaints, including charges of registration irregularities, fraudulent voting, denial of voting rights, electioneering by Government officials, and political pressure on Federal employees or Government relief program workers. Among other issues addressed were the Senate franking privilege, use of congressional employees for campaign work, controversies over attempts to place candidates of the Communist Party on ballots, and the Hatch Act.

18.112 The records (93 ft.) include reports or completed questionnaires from the various targeted groups, as well as complaints received, memorandums, investigators' working papers and reports, printed summaries of investigators' reports, minutes of committee meetings, published and unpublished hearings transcripts, and committee reports. General correspondence, news clippings, campaign literature, ballots, poll books and various administrative records, including many related to committee finances, are also among the records.

18.113 Finding aids are available for the campaign expenditure committee records relating to the elections of 1940, 1942, 1944, and 1946.

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Miscellaneous Committees

18.114 Five additional committees of this period are represented only minimally among the records of the U.S. Senate. The records of these committees are described briefly here.

18.115 The Select Committee on Investigation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (69A-F26) was established in March 1924 to investigate and report on conditions in the Internal Revenue Bureau in preparation for Senate consideration of a tax revision and reduction bill. The records (4 in.) include correspondence between citizens and the Internal Revenue Bureau regarding claims for refund or abatement of taxes, as well as related charts prepared by the committee. There are also typescript transcripts of hearings.

18.116 The Select Committee on Post Office Leases (71A-F27.1) was established in response to charges of fraud, misrepresentation, and corruption in connection with post office leases. The records (1 in.) consist of one bound volume of printed transcripts of hearings dating from November 1930 to December 1931.

18.117 The Special Committee to Study Reorganization of the Courts of the United States, and Reform Judicial Procedure (76A-F27) was established in August 1937 and drew its members from the Committee on the Judiciary. The records (2 in.) relate to the need for appointing additional judges in certain districts. Included are transcripts of meetings held in Los Angeles by Patrick A. McCarran of Nevada with Federal judges and with the trustees of the Los Angeles Bar Association regarding appointment of an eighth judge of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of California, as well as hearings transcripts, minutes of committee meetings, charts regarding the workload in various U. S. district and circuit courts, correspondence, and various printed materials.

18.118 In April 1938, President Roosevelt proposed elimination of both the reciprocal exemption from income taxation granted to public officials of national, State, and local governments and the exemption granted to holders of public securities. To consider this proposal, the Senate established the Special Committee on the Taxation of Governmental Securities and Salaries (76A-F28) with Prentiss M. Brown of Michigan as chairman. The records (2 in.) include correspondence from agencies and interested groups or individuals, notes, statements of witnesses, partial transcripts of public hearings, vouchers, and assorted printed documents.

18.119 There are a few petitions (1/4 in.) from 1940 referred to the Select Committee on Government Organization (76A-J25). For the most part, they sought to have the Farm Credit Administration restored to its former status as an independent Bureau.

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 80th-90th Congresses (1946-1968)

18.120 During consideration of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (S. 2177, 79th Cong.), the practice of establishing select committees to investigate specific issues of particular concern met with strong opposition. The original Senate-passed version of the bill stated, in section 126: "No bill or resolution, and no amendment to any bill or resolution, to establish or to continue a special or select committee, including a joint committee, shall be received or considered in either the Senate or the House of Representatives." If the jurisdictional boundaries of the various standing committees were properly delineated in the Senate rules, there would be little likelihood, it was argued, that an issue of critical concern would not fit clearly within the jurisdiction of a standing committee. Clear and comprehensive jurisdictional assignments could cover every conceivable subject of legislative concern and provide continual oversight of Federal agencies by the standing committees rather than sporadic monitoring by the select committees. The result would be less duplication of effort and a generally more efficient Congress.

18.121 The House of Representatives, on the other hand, was not ready to relinquish the practice of establishing select committees, so their version of the Legislative Reorganization Act did not include the section prohibiting select and special committees. When the act was signed as Public Law 79-601, the House version had prevailed. As a result, in the 80th Congress, the Senate rules for the first time defined the jurisdictions of the standing committees; the rules did not, however, prohibit select committees.

18.122 As the 80th Congress began, therefore, the Senate's attitude toward select or special committees was clearly unfavorable. The standing committees carefully guarded their newly delineated jurisdictional prerogatives. Although the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program and the Special Committee to Study Problems of American Small Business were allowed to continue for the moment, proposals to establish new select committees usually encountered formidable resistance. The relatively few select committees that were established sometimes owed their existence to jurisdictional conflicts between standing committees. In many such cases, compromises resulted in the establishment of select committees composed of members from two or more designated standing committees.

18.123 In this section, as in the previous one, the records of each select or special committee are described separately and arranged in order of the date of establishment of the committee.

Select Committee on Small Business (February 20, 1950)

18.124 On February 20, 1950, the Senate passed S. Res. 58, which created the Select Committee on Small Business "to be appointed by the President of the Senate as soon as practicable after the date of adoption of this resolution and at the commencement of each Congress" to study and survey all problems of American small business. The resolution specified that the committee would not consider proposed legislation, or report by bill, or otherwise have legislative jurisdiction. This was in accord with the usual practice that had developed during the preceding era of select investigative committees.

18.125 The Select Committee on Small Business was the first of the "permanent" select committees, and its creation was the subject of considerable controversy. The Special Committee to Study Problems of American Small Business, a select committee, had been established in 1940. When the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 did not provide a standing committee on small business in the Senate, the select committee was allowed to continue. Nevertheless, the Committee on Banking and Currency established a Subcommittee on Small Business in January 1947. The select committee and the subcommittee existed simultaneously until January 31, 1949, when the select committee was terminated because the Senate did not renew its authorization.

18.126 Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska and James Murray of Montana, the former chairmen of the defunct select committee, pressed for establishment of a full standing committee to deal with small business issues. Wherry argued that the subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency could not consider all the needs of small business without usurping jurisdiction from other committees. The Senate agreed and responded by limiting the subcommittee's jurisdiction. Wherry's call for a regular standing committee on small business threatened, however, to curtail the jurisdiction of a number of established standing committees, such as Commerce, Banking and Currency, and Finance. Therefore, in order to avoid jurisdictional conflicts but still provide a regular Senate forum where American small businessmen could be assured a hearing, the Senate created the Select Committee on Small Business without legislative jurisdiction but with a certainty of continuation in future Congresses.4

18.127 John Sparkman of Alabama was appointed chairman and served in that capacity until 1967, except for the 83rd Congress (1953-54) when the Republicans controlled the Senate. The committee pursued its unique mandate through various activities. One of the most important, in terms of impact and effort, was individual case work. In the last half of 1950, for example, the committee sought to aid 2,100 businessmen who had been referred by Senators and advised 6,700 more who asked for help by mail. Occasionally, the committee conducted clinics or seminars for small businessmen, such as the clinics held throughout the country in 1950 to acquaint small businessmen with the routine methods of securing Government contracts and the 1966 seminar on the application of automatic data processing to small business. The committee also held many hearings and studied a variety of issues of concern to small business. Between 1950 and 1966, the Senate published 81 reports of the select committee and issued many transcripts of hearings and committee prints. These publications covered a wide range of topics, including procurement practices of certain Government agencies, tax depreciation allowances, the impact of imports on American small business, food marketing, and the emergence of shopping centers.

18.128 Because of the continuing nature of the select committee, its records (215 ft.) have been sent to the National Archives in several lots. The first group of records (81A-F16) of the Select Committee on Small Business bears particular mention because it consists chiefly of records of the committee's predecessors, though not generally labelled as such. Included are the records of the Special Committee to Study Problems of American Small Business that was chaired by Murray and Wherry, as well as records of the Banking and Currency Committee's Subcommittee on Small Business. Other lots generally cover certain time spans of the later select committee's existence.

18.129 The records contain correspondence with Government agencies, small businessmen, business associations, and others. There are staff memorandums and reports, committee bulletins and newsletters, studies, notes, plans for upcoming committee activities, data regarding issues of interest to the committee, drafts of committee reports and prints, Government publications, and administrative materials, such as payroll lists, personnel applications, and r‚sum‚s of staff members. Among the many documents received by the committee are printed promotional materials from the business community, company prospectuses, corporation annual reports, industry reports, and, occasionally, legal documents relating to particular cases. Other materials include committee vote tallies, witness lists, prepared questions, witness statements, statements of Senators, transcripts of a variety of meetings and hearings, press releases, and news clippings.

18.130 The records reflect both the complexity of American small business and changes over time. Records from the earlier special committee, for example, pertain to the impact of the war on small business and legislative responses to it. Many records concern the assistance the small business committees provided to small firms vying for Government loans and contracts, attempting to obtain materials in short supply due to the war, registering complaints against the Government, or seeking redress of grievances. Other records relate to committee hearings and studies, legislative proposals, and Federal agency activities affecting small business.

18.131 Subjects addressed in the records include Government procurement policies and procedures, the availability of credit, tax problems of small business, Government competition with private enterprise, the impact of imports on American small business, and technology and the effect of technological developments. Other topics include export controls, discount stores, price wars, monopolies and cartels, concentration in banking, motion picture distribution, battery additive AD-X2, food marketing, and radio broadcast hours. Many documents relate to problems of specific types of small businesses, such as Ford tractor distributors, tire dealers, or newspaper publishers.

18.132 Folder title lists are available for approximately one-fourth of the total volume of the records.

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Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (May 3, 1950)

18.133 In late 1949, a spate of articles in newspapers and magazines warned that a national crime syndicate was gaining control of many American cities by corrupting local government officials. Crime commissions in Chicago and California also reported official corruption under the influence of syndicated crime. Though Federal law enforcement statutes provided few weapons against this criminal activity, voices arose calling for Federal action. Requests for Federal assistance came from the mayors of Los Angeles, New Orleans, Portland, and other cities. The American Municipal Association asked the Federal government to investigate efforts of organized national racketeers to gain control of municipal law-enforcement agencies.

refer to caption

Final Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, also known as the Kefauver Committee, dated August 31, 1951. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

18.134 On January 5, 1950, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate interstate racketeering activities and the use of the facilities of interstate commerce for purposes of organized crime. The resolution led to a jurisdictional conflict between the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. A compromise worked out in the Democratic Policy Committee called for a special investigative committee of five Senators to be drawn from the membership of both standing committees. During Senate debate the compromise ran into objections that it violated the spirit of the Legislative Reorganization Act, was politically motivated, and left unstated which of the two standing committees would furnish the majority. Nevertheless, the compromise resolution was accepted with Vice President Alben Barkley casting the tie-breaking vote on May 3, 1950.

18.135 The Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce was directed to study and investigate "whether organized crime utilizes the facilities of interstate commerce or otherwise operates in interstate commerce in furtherance of any transactions which are in violation of the law ... and, if so, the manner and extent to which, and the identity of the persons, firms, or corporations by which such utilization is being made..." (S. Res. 202, 81st Cong.). The resolution specifically prohibited the committee from interfering in any way with the rights of the States to regulate gambling within their border. Kefauver served as chairman, and the committee was sometimes referred to as the Kefauver Committee. For chief counsel and chief investigator, he relied on men who had served in those same positions for the Truman Committee. On May 1, 1951, Herbert R. O'Conor of Maryland assumed the chairmanship and occupied that position for the final few months until the committee ended on September 1, 1951.

18.136 The committee's work generated considerable public interest, due to the subject matter and to the fact that it was the first committee to hold televised hearings. The committee held hearings in Washington and in cities throughout the country, questioning governors, mayors, sheriffs, policemen, and reputed underworld figures. The committee's work led to many citations for contempt of the Senate and a number of local indictments for criminal activities. The committee issued four reports, concluding that nationwide organized crime syndicates did exist and that they depended on the support or tolerance of public officials. The committee suggested various legislative remedies, though only one passed the Senate.

18.137 The records (90 ft.) are arranged under six headings: Records relating to the administration of the committee and its personnel, records relating to crime in general, records relating to investigative files directly within the committee's jurisdiction, records relating to all phases of public relations, records relating to all phases of hearings, and records relating to the preparation of committee reports. The administration, crime, and public relations records are filed according to a subject-numerical scheme. The records are described at the series level in the National Archives Catalog.

18.138 The records relating to the administration of the committee and its personnel include correspondence, memorandums, daily reports, staff summaries, and worksheets, as well as financial and personnel records. Substantive matters regarding the committee's investigation are addressed in the records, as well as the committee's policies and procedures, staff, applicants, office space, equipment, and travel.

18.139 Filed under records relating to crime in general are correspondence, memorandums, investigative files, minutes of executive and public hearings, documents providing tax information, lists of telephone calls furnished to the committee by the phone company, and various other types of documents. There are replies to committee inquiries from public attorneys; police departments; Federal agencies; and stevedore, steamship, and other companies. Various printed materials are among the files, such as copies of committee publications, bills and resolutions, State statutes or legislative proposals regarding organized crime, and press clippings about gamblers and racketeers. Subjects appearing in the records include the committee's investigative program and plans, prostitution, narcotics, gambling, racketeering, homicides, juvenile delinquency, distribution of alcoholic beverages, New York waterfront activities, and alien criminals residing in the United States.

18.140 Records relating to investigative files directly within the committee's jurisdiction comprise almost 40 percent of the volume of the committee records and are organized in two series: The name files, and the geographical State files. These series contain correspondence, memorandums, reports, work papers, copies of criminal records or reports furnished by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or local police, subpoenas, testimony, sworn statements, exhibits, cross-reference slips, and news clippings and other informational material. There are responses from State attorneys general, mayors, newspaper editors, and others regarding organized crime. The records deal with the activities of known criminals, gamblers, narcotics peddlers, public officials, and law enforcement officers previously implicated in organized crime or corruption. Some documents from the public provide information or leads for the committee investigators.

18.141 Among the records relating to all phases of public relations are correspondence from the public expressing favorable or unfavorable views of the committee, press releases, speeches of Senator Kefauver and other Government officials, invitations for public speaking engagements, news clippings, correspondence regarding broadcasts of committee hearings and other committee publicity, and mailing lists used by the committee to contact officials for information.

18.142 Records relating to all phases of hearings consist mainly of transcripts of all executive session hearings, of some committee meetings held in executive session and of public hearings, along with the related exhibits. Also included are digests of hearings, subpoenas, and related documents, materials regarding contempt citations and warrants for arrest, correspondence, memorandums, schedules of witnesses, prepared questions, and proposed agendas.

18.143 Records relating to the preparation of the committee reports include drafts, galley proofs, and printed copies of the four committee reports, together with related correspondence, memorandums, and work papers. There are also reports and background material of field investigations, requests for reports and records, and replies from State and local officials to a committee form letter regarding steps taken either as a direct or indirect result of the committee's work. Other records filed under this heading relate to committee investigations during O'Conor's tenure as chairman.

18.144 An untitled draft preliminary inventory, which includes a list of folder headings for the alphabetical name segment of the investigative files, is available for the records of this special committee. There is also a list of committee hearings, giving date, place, and names of persons giving testimony.

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Special Committee on Investigation of Cover on Mail of Senators (December 1, 1954)

18.145 In 1951, William Benton of Connecticut introduced a resolution requesting an investigation to determine whether Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin should be expelled from the Senate. The Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections of the Committee on Rules and Administration decided to hold hearings on the resolution beginning September 28, 1951. Within a few months, McCarthy introduced a resolution for an investigation into Benton's conduct as a Senator, and a dual investigation was underway.

18.146 Two years later, on December 1, 1954, Joseph McCarthy charged that, as part of the earlier investigations, the Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections had illegally requested the post office to furnish names and addresses of addressers, names of addressees, and postmarks of all mail received at McCarthy's home address and at the addresses of certain of his staff members. Such activity is referred to as a mail cover. A committee of two members, Homer Ferguson of Michigan and Walter F. George of Georgia, was appointed to determine whether a cover on the mail of Senator McCarthy or any other Senator had been maintained and, if so, to ascertain the details regarding this activity.

18.147 The committee held hearings on December 2 and submitted its report the next day. It concluded that mail covers had been maintained during various periods on four different addresses, that none of the subcommittee members or the chairman of the full committee had authorized the mail cover, and that chief counsel Paul J. Cotter was responsible. The report condemned the use of mail covers during Senate investigations.

18.148 The records (less than 1 in.) contain documents obtained from the Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections, including the correspondence requesting the cover on mail and lists of mail received by certain persons. There is also a list of names and background information on employees of the subcommittee from September 1952 to January 1953 who worked on the Benton-McCarthy investigation conducted pursuant to S. Res. 187, as well as a memorandum detailing the chronology of appointments to the subcommittee during 1952.

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Select Committee on Contribution Investigation (February 7, 1956)

18.149 On February 3, 1956, as Senate debate on the bill to amend the Natural Gas Act drew to a close, Francis Case of South Dakota rose to deliver a speech that would result in the creation of two select committees and lead to a Presidential veto. Case explained in his speech that he would vote against the bill because of a $2,500 contribution made to his campaign by a person who had contacted him regarding support for the pending natural gas bill to exempt natural gas producers from regulation by the Federal Power Commission.

18.150 Four days later, on February 7, the Senate established a select committee to investigate the circumstances involving the alleged attempt to influence Senator Case's vote on the natural gas bill. The four-member committee included two Senators from each political party. Walter F. George of Georgia served as chairman and Styles Bridges of New Hampshire as secretary. The committee held hearings at which 22 witnesses testified.

18.151 The records (2 ft.) include summaries of investigative interviews, subpoenas, lists of questions to be asked of certain witnesses (sometimes including indications of expected answers), digests of the testimony of various persons, and exhibits. There are also certified copies of the statements of contributions received that were submitted to the secretary of state of South Dakota by political party State central committees from 1940 through 1954, a memorandum from the Senate legislative counsel regarding the various statutory provisions pertinent to the special committee's inquiry, and copies of relevant congressional publications, including the committee report.

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Special Committee to Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying, and Campaign Contributions (February 22, 1956)

18.152 The Act to Amend the Natural Gas Act passed Congress despite the speech delivered by Francis Case in the closing days of the Senate's consideration of the bill (see Select Committee on Contribution Investigation, above). President Dwight D. Eisenhower favored the legislation but chose to veto the bill. His veto message noted that, as both Congress and the Department of Justice were investigating allegations of inappropriate activity on the part of certain private citizens who supported the bill, it would be a disservice to the Nation and to Congress to approve the legislation while the investigations were pending.

18.153 In this context and even before the Select Committee on Contribution Investigation had reported its findings, the Senate adopted a resolution to establish the Special Committee to Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying, and Campaign Contributions. The bipartisan eight-member committee was directed to investigate attempts to influence improperly any Senator or employee of the executive branch. The committee elected John L. McClellan of Arkansas as chairman and Styles Bridges of New Hampshire as vice-chairman. In its report (S. Rept. 395, 85th Cong., 1st sess.) submitted on May 31, 1957, the committee offered its recommendations for remedial legislation.

18.154 The committee began by investigating the lobbying activities concerning the natural gas bill, hearing witnesses who had supported or opposed the bill. The committee also considered the lobbying pertaining to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and the 1956 amendments to the Sugar Act of 1948, investigated certain trade associations, and studied and investigated activities relating to Federal election laws and campaign finances.

18.155 The records (18 ft.) are filed according to a numerical classification scheme. Included are applications for committee employment, staff personnel files, reports to the Secretary of the Senate, and vouchers. There are replies to questionnaires to gas and oil companies regarding lobbying activities, replies to questionnaires to former Members of Congress and political scientists regarding recommendations to improve Federal statutes relating to political campaigns, and copies of the 1956 general election financial reports filed with the Secretary of the Senate by candidates and political committees. Memorandums reporting on investigations, discussing certain organizations, summarizing testimony, or tracking committee work also are among the records. Other documents include correspondence, committee minutes, minutes of staff meetings, transcripts of public and executive sessions, exhibits, subpoenas, news clippings, and informational materials. There is an alphabetical name and subject card index to individual documents among the records.

18.156 The oil and gas lobby, airline industry lobbying, efforts to influence Congress regarding the sugar bill, tax aspects of lobbying and campaign finances, and State laws on lobbying and political campaigns are subjects appearing among the documents. A variety of other topics are addressed, such as committee housekeeping functions, committee procedures and agenda, expenses for the special congressional election in New Mexico in April 1957, charges against Sen. Milton R. Young of North Dakota, British political practices, and organized labor's role in political campaigns.

18.157 There is a finding aid to the records of this committee. Included are appendixes giving folder titles for the various series among the records.

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Special Committee to Study the Foreign Aid Program (July 11, 1956)

18.158 Between 1945 and 1956, the United States extended grants and loans totaling $50 billion to foreign countries. The aid program, which had its beginning in the highly successful Marshall Plan for postwar Europe, had become very complex. Military assistance to Western European countries had increased markedly in light of the cold war, and U.S. economic and military assistance to other parts of the world had also expanded.

18.159 The foreign assistance program was, however, no longer as popular as the Marshall Plan had been; nearly one-third of the Senate voted against it in 1956. The objectives of the program were no longer clearly defined, it was charged, and S. Res. 285 was introduced calling for a study to "clarify the relationship of the purposes, scope, and methods of the economic, military, and technical aid programs of this Government to our foreign policy and to our national interest."

18.160 On July 11, 1956, the Senate established the Special Committee to Study the Foreign Aid Program. Its membership included all members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as the chairman and ranking minority members of both the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees. The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee served as chairman of the special committee.

18.161 The committee was directed to undertake exhaustive studies of the goals and effects of foreign assistance vis-a-vis the national interest. Among the points to be considered were the proper objectives of the aid program and how to measure the level of accomplishment, the Nation's capacity to extend aid, other countries' needs and willingness to receive aid, their ability to use it, the various kinds of foreign aid and conditions attached to it, and actions required to enable the foreign aid program to accomplish its objectives. The committee was directed to consult a variety of experts in the course of its study, including private organizations, institutions, and individuals, as well as Federal agencies. The Senate wanted to have the final report available by the time the Mutual Security Act of 1957 was to be considered by the Senate in mid-1957.

18.162 Walter F. George of Georgia served as chairman of the special committee during the 84th Congress and Theodore Francis Green of Rhode Island during the 85th. At an organizational meeting held on July 20, the committee agreed to certain rules and goals, including one stipulating that the chairman might designate several members to act on behalf of the committee during adjournment. Faced with a 6-month Senate adjournment, George appointed a six-member executive committee, with Green as chairman, for the purpose of obtaining all the information necessary for the full committee to carry on its work when it reconvened. This executive committee performed the leadership role for the special committee, determining requirements, overseeing contracts, and analyzing reports.

18.163 The committee relied on a variety of sources and methods to fulfill its mandate. It entered into contracts with various domestic research organizations and institutions for 11 studies of specific aspects of the issue. Prominent individuals were recruited to conduct surveys of foreign aid programs in different geographic regions of the world. Employees of 50 private American business firms, religious institutions, and news organizations with substantial overseas activities received a committee questionnaire concerning foreign aid programs. The committee also invited all Senators to submit their own views and suggestions or any received by them. Finally, the committee held public hearings in March and April 1957.

18.164 The records (3 ft.) include substantial information on committee policies, procedures, plans, and programs. There are agendas, memorandums, notes, and press releases, as well as correspondence with members of the committee, other Senators, Federal agencies, persons doing work for the committee, and the public. Many documents relate to the contracts or reports that the committee authorized. These include correspondence, research proposals, lists of organizations or notable individuals whose services might be useful, and lists of projects and contractors. The actual studies or reports, are printed (S. Doc. 52, 85th Cong., 1st sess.) and are not included. There are also lists of previous studies done by consultants under contract to Federal agencies. Among the documents relating to the committee hearings are background information reports on witnesses, prepared questions, witness statements, and stenographic transcripts. There are also a few completed questionnaires, as well as congressional publications, articles and clippings, and a variety of informational materials.

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Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (January 30, 1957)

18.165 During its Government procurement investigations, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Operations uncovered evidence that racketeers had invaded the business of supplying uniforms to the U.S. Government and that certain local unions were cooperating with the racketeers. The subcommittee subsequently discovered that the reports to Federal agencies filed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America were not accurate.

18.166 Subcommittee chairman John L. McClellan of Arkansas believed a full-scale investigation of improper activities in the whole field of labor or management was needed but that such an investigation was not within the jurisdiction of the permanent subcommittee. Consequently, he introduced a resolution for additional authority to conduct such an investigation. Meanwhile, a resolution was pending that would direct a subcommittee of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare to conduct such an investigation. In a compromise, the Senate created the Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field whose bipartisan membership was derived from the two standing committees. McClellan was named chairman, with Irving Ives of New York as vice chairman.

18.167 The select committee was directed to study the extent of criminal or other improper practices in the field of labor-management relations or in groups of employees or employers. It was also to suggest any changes in the laws of the United States that would provide protection against such practices or activities.

18.168 The committee pursued its investigation for 3 years. During that time, it conducted 253 active investigations, served 8,000 subpoenas for witnesses and documents, held 270 days of hearings with 1,526 witnesses (343 of whom invoked the Fifth Amendment), compiled almost 150,000 pages of testimony, and issued various interim reports. At its peak of activity in 1958, 104 persons were engaged in the work of the committee, including 34 deployed on field investigations and approximately 40 accountants and investigators from the Government Accounting Office. Robert F. Kennedy served as chief counsel.

18.169 The committee's investigations covered a wide range of labor unions and corporations in the United States, such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Automobile Workers, Anheuser-Busch, Sears, and Occidental Life Insurance. The committee established contacts with the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Narcotics Bureau, Department of Labor, and other Federal agencies, as well as with the New York district attorney, police commissioner, and with the Waterfront Commission and other local and State offices and officials involved in law enforcement. Prosecutorial activity increased throughout the country, and a rash of grand jury indictments resulted. On the legislative front, the select committee's influence was reflected in the enactment of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (Public Law 86-257) on September 14, 1959.

18.170 The final report of the committee was issued on March 31, 1960. At that time, the authority granted by the Senate to the select committee was transferred to the Committee on Government Operations.

18.171 The records (488 ft.) contain correspondence, interview reports, investigative memorandums, memorandums regarding committee policies and procedures, transcripts of hearings, subpoenas, contempt citations, proposed legislation, resumes, press releases, and news clippings. There are also many documents gathered by the committee in the course of its investigations, such as hotel records, telephone toll tickets, contracts, tax returns, receipts, invoices, and documents regarding bank and brokerage accounts.

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Select Committee on National Water Resources (April 20, 1959)

18.172 On April 20, 1959, the Senate established the Select Committee on National Water Resources, authorizing it to study water resources activities in the United States and their relationship to the national interest. The select committee was also directed to analyze activities necessary to provide adequate water for use by population, agriculture, and industry through 1980, including recreational, fish, and wildlife needs. The committee consisted of 17 members, including 3 each from the committees on Interior and Insular Affairs, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Agriculture and Forestry, and Public Works. Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma served as chairman and Thomas H. Kuchel of California as vice chairman. The committee issued its final report on January 30, 1961.

18.173 During its existence, the select committee had 90 studies made covering all aspects of water resources activities in the United States. These studies were undertaken primarily by Federal agencies, though some were by State agencies or private groups. Included are general background studies, projections of future demands, and reports on new techniques and means for meeting demands. All are published in a series of 32 committee prints; a brief summary of each of the studies appears in the final report (S. Rept. 29, 87th Cong., 1st sess.).

18.174 The committee also solicited the States for their views on water resources issues and held extensive hearings throughout the country, from Montana to Florida and from Maine to California. In all, 3,920 pages of testimony were given by 972 witnesses. The transcripts are printed in 23 parts.

18.175 The records (12 ft.) include the committee report and its draft, the preliminary staff report presented to the committee in May 1960, printed hearings, and committee prints. There are also unpublished transcripts of committee proceedings, State reports and reports from Federal agencies regarding water problems, digests of testimony, memorandums, charts, correspondence, and press releases. Additional documents include schedules, attendance lists, and outlines of the work plans of the committee. The records address various administrative matters, such as committee finances, personnel, and printing, as well as water resources, water requirements projections, pollution, flood control, and techniques for meeting water demands.

18.176 An unpublished list of folder titles is available for the records of this committee.

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Select Committee on Standards and Conduct (July 24, 1964)

18.177 On October 7, 1963, Secretary for the Senate Majority Robert G. "Bobby" Baker resigned his post in the face of conflict-of-interest charges and questions about his financial dealings. In the midst of the ensuing investigation by the Rules and Administration Committee, the Senate, on July 24, 1964, authorized the creation of a six-member, bipartisan permanent Select Committee on Standards and Conduct. The committee was directed to receive and investigate complaints of unethical and illegal conduct by a Senator or employee of the Senate, to recommend disciplinary action if necessary, and to suggest reforms to ensure ethical conduct. Appointment of the members of this watchdog committee was delayed for many months; the first meeting of the committee occurred 15 months after authorization. John C. Stennis of Mississippi served as chairman and Wallace F. Bennett of Utah as vice chairman.

18.178 In its first investigation, the select committee considered charges that Thomas J. Dodd of Connecticut had used money raised at political dinners to pay personal bills, had purposely billed both the Senate and private organizations for seven trips, and had improperly exchanged favors with a public relations representative of West German interests. For more than a year, the committee probed the allegations through interviews, reviews of bank account records and other financial documents, correspondence with those who received disbursements from Dodd's accounts, and committee hearings.

18.179 The resulting committee report recommended censure of Dodd for the expenditure of political funds and double-billing. The Senate rejected the recommendation of censure regarding double-billing. On June 23, 1967, the Senate did, however, vote to censure Dodd for using political funds for his personal benefit. Dodd was the seventh Senator ever to be officially censured.

18.180 One month after the committee issued its report on the Dodd investigation, Life magazine carried an article by William Lambert charging that Edward V. Long of Missouri had used his position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure to aid James R. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The article asserted that a key motive for the subcommittee's 2-year investigation of alleged invasion of privacy by Federal agencies was to give Hoffa an opportunity to have his March 1964 conviction thrown out. Furthermore, it charged that Long had accepted $48,000 in legal fees from a close friend who was Hoffa's lawyer in the trials that led to his imprisonment on March 7, 1967.

18.181 The select committee investigated these charges and held 14 executive sessions on the matter. In its report to the Senate, the committee indicated it found no basis for holding public hearings.

18.182 The records (17 ft.) relate to the investigations of Dodd and Long. There are personnel files, notes, memorandums, correspondence, interview reports, subpoenas, depositions, witness statements and digests, and exhibits. Transcripts of committee meetings, hearings, and press conferences are also included, as well as copies of committee reports, press clippings, bank documents, election reports, telephone bills, vouchers, and income tax returns.

18.183 Unpublished folder title lists are available for the records of both the Dodd and Long investigations.

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Records of Senate Select Committees, 91st Congress-onward (1969- )

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.

refer to caption

S. Res. 60, to establish a select committee to conduct an investigation of the 1972 Presidential election (SEN93A-B4). RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, 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). The records are described at the series level in the National Archives Catalog.

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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1 U.S. Congress, Senate, "The United States Senate, 1787-1801: A Dissertation on the First Fourteen Years of the Upper Legislative Body," by Roy Swanstrom. S. Doc. 19, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985, p. 226.

2 Beginning with the records of the 30th Congress, committee reports, which are found with committee papers for earlier Congresses, constitute their own series and are arranged numerically or, when unnumbered, chronologically.

3 Congressional Record, 77th Cong., 1st sess., Feb. 10, 1941, p. 837.

4 In 1955 the requirement for biennial appointment of the committee's members by the President of the Senate was dropped, and the committee was officially given permanent status. this had the effect of removing the hiatus at the beginning of each Congress during which the President of the Senate selected the members of the committee. After this, the committee was also treated in the same way as the standing committees with regard to using funds and receiving appropriations.

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.

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

Return to the Table of Contents for the Guide to the Records of the U.S. Senate