The National Archives Catalog

Administrative History Note

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Public Element
No No Variable Character Length (9999) None Yes


Definition: Explanations or significant information regarding the organization, including information relevant to an understanding of its creation, mission, functions, program areas, activities, incumbents, administrative and operational hierarchy, relationships to other corporate bodies, relationships with superior organizations, and earlier or successor names.


Purpose: Establishes an appropriate context for understanding the records created by an organization.


Relationship: This element is dependent on Organization Name. To have Administrative History Note, Organization Name must be created.


Guidance: General

Be brief.

Use the past tense, even for ongoing agencies.

Do not include information on organizations that are higher in the hierarchy. This information will be conveyed in separate organization authority records.

Do not include extensive information of major predecessor organizations. This will be handled in separate authority records.

Do not use bullets in the text-they do not translate well in ARC.

What to Include in an Administrative History Note

Enter a narrative description of the organization's history, including any significant information required to make clear the context in which archival materials were created, accumulated, and maintained.


Give the name of the organization as used in the Organization Name field. Add the variant name in parentheses, and if appropriate, explain any Variant Organization Name listed for the organization.

Give the dates of the establishment of the organization. Use "ca." If you can only approximate the date.

If known, cite the authority by which the organization was established.

The United States Army Materiel Command (USAMC) was established on May 8, 1962, by General Order 23, Department of the Army, May 4, 1962.


The U.S. District Court for the District of Arkansas was established on June 15, 1836, by an act of Congress, 5 Stat. 51, approved June 15, 1836.



If known, cite the organization(s) from which the subject organization's functions were transferred.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command inherited the functions of the offices of the Quartermaster General, the Chief of Ordnance, the Chief Signal Officer, the Chief Chemical Officer, and the Chief of Transportation.



Changes in the Hierarchy
Note significant changes in the hierarchy. Typically this would entail reassignments but not minor name changes.

On April 1, 1987, the U.S. Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation, and on March 1, 2003, to the Department of Homeland Security.



Changes in the Organization Name
Note significant changes in the official name of the organization.

In 1927 the Customs Service became the Bureau of Customs and on August 1, 1973, it became the U.S. Customs Service.



Give a brief statement of the function of the organization, e.g. what it was responsible for, what it did. For courts, a statement of jurisdiction would be appropriate, and also indicate it in Jurisdiction. Remember that most Program Area access points assigned to the organization will be anchored here.

USAMC was responsible for the life-cycle management of the Army's materiel, beginning with concept; progressing through research and development, test and evaluation, procurement and production, supply, distribution, and maintenance; and ending with disposal. USAMC also acted as the Department of the Army's executive agent for foreign military sales.


The original jurisdiction of the circuit courts was conferred by the Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73), approved September 24, 1789. Later laws, particularly an act of March 3, 1875 (18 Stat. 470), extended the courts' authority to additional classes of suits and liberalized provisions for the removal of cases from state courts. In general, where the amount in controversy exceeded $500, the circuit courts had original jurisdiction over cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, cases in which there was a dispute between citizens of different states, and suits between citizens of a state and a foreign state or its citizens. An act of March 3, 1887 (24 Stat. 552), increased the amount necessary to confer jurisdiction from $500 to $2,000, exclusive of costs and interest. The original jurisdiction of the circuit court also extended, irrespective of the amount in dispute, to suits between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, to cases in which the United States was plaintiff or petitioner, and to all proceedings arising out of crimes and offenses against the United States, except as otherwise provided by law. A number of special laws also conferred on the circuit courts jurisdiction over other matters, such as those relating to the infringement of patents and copyrights, violations of civil rights and the elective franchise, importation of alien contract labor, registration of trademarks, transportation of passengers in merchant vessels, unlawful restraints of trade and monopolies, and controversies between trustees in bankruptcy and adverse claimants to property held by the trustees.



Mention significant people associated with the organization. Include titles and dates of incumbency. Remember that persons noted as access points in the authority record will be anchored here.

The first U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, George Wadsworth, presented his credentials on February 15, 1947. He was succeeded by Edward S. Crocker, March 12, 1949; Burton Y. Berry, August 11, 1952; Waldemar J. Gallman, November 3, 1954; and John D. Jernegan, January 12, 1959.



Abolishment and Successor(s) Include date and authority (if known). Briefly describe the circumstances, if appropriate. If functions were transferred, mention the organization(s) that inherited functions of the abolished organization.

The U.S. Embassy in Tehran closed on November 4, 1979, when militant Iranian students occupied the Embassy. On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran and on April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Iran.


The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was abolished on June 30,1872, by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). Its functions were transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department.



What Not to Include in an Administrative History Note
Administrative History Notes do not contain subjective assessments of the historical significance of the agency, or partisan comments on its policies, activities, and personnel.


When to Write an Administrative History Note
In general, create a note whenever necessary for the understanding of the archival materials that are in NARA's holdings.

An Administrative History Note may be written for an organization that has not transferred archival materials to NARA whenever such a note assists in the understanding of lower-level organizations and their records.

Some organizations may share a common history and in that case only one administrative history note needs to be written. Multiple organization names can be linked to one administrative history note.




The President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island was established on April 11, 1979, by Executive Order 12130. The order establishing the Commission specified that it was "to investigate and explain [an] ... accident [that occurred] at the nuclear power facility at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, March 28, 1979." The Commission was empowered to hold hearings and depose witnesses, collect reference material, analyze data, and prepare reports. Much of the work of the Commission was conducted in Washington, DC.

The Commission comprised twelve persons appointed by the President from among citizens who were not full time officers or employees of the Executive Branch. Commission members were: John G. Kemeny (who served as chairman), Bruce Babbit, Patrick E. Haggerty, Carolyn Lewis, Paul A. Marks, Cora B. Marrett, Lloyd McBride, Harry C. McPherson, Russell W. Peterson, Thomas H. Pigford, Theodore B. Taylor, and Anne D. Trunk. The Commission held six open meetings and ten meetings in executive session. Its work was supported by a staff organized in three offices: the Office of the Chief Council, the Office of the Director of Technical Staff, and the Office of Public Information. The Chairman of the Commission reported to the President of the United States.

The Commission's final report, "The Need for Change: The Legacy of TMI, Report of the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island" (Washington, November 1979), included recommendations that led to changes in the Federal Government's activities relating to the oversight of nuclear power plants.

The Commission's work ended on November 15, 1979, with the issuance of its final report.


Following U.S. entry into the war the Special Operations Group (SPOBS) became an advance element of a theater of operations and was redesignated Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the British Isles by direction of the President conveyed in War Department message 293, AGWAR to SPOBS, January 8, 1942, and announced by HQ USAFBI General Order 1, January 8, 1942.


MACV was abolished March 29, 1973, by authority of JCS message 4825 DTG 220021Z Nov 72.


Section 2 of the Act of Congress of Jul 27, 1789 (1 Stat. 28) establishing a Department of Foreign Affairs, authorized the Secretary to appoint a Chief Clerk, who would have custody of the Department's records whenever the office of the Secretary should be vacant. From 1789 to 1853, when Congress created the position of Assistant Secretary of State, the Chief Clerk was the second-ranking officer of the Department of State, and was responsible for supervision of Department personnel, distribution of correspondence, and day-to-day operations. After 1853, the Chief Clerk's duties included at various times custody of archives, distribution of correspondence, and supervision of Department personnel and property.

Chief Clerks, with dates of their appointment, included Henry Remsen, Jr., July 27, 1789, and September 1, 1790; Roger Alden, January 1, 1790; George Taylor, Jr., April 1, 1792; Jacob Wagner, February 8, 1798; John Graham, July 1, 1807; Daniel Brent, September 22, 1817; Asbury Dickens, August 23, 1833; Aaron Ogden Dayton, December 13, 1836; Aaron Vail, June 26, 1838; Jacob L. Martin, July 16, 1840; Daniel Fletcher Webster, March 6, 1841; William S. Derrick, April 24, 1843, and March 11, 1845; Richard K. Cralle, April 10, 1844; Nicholas P. Trist, August 28, 1845; William S. Derrick, April 15, 1847, and April 25, 1848; John Appleton, January 26, 1848; and William Hunter, Jr., May 17, 1852.

The office was abolished Jan 26, 1939, with functions transferred to the Division of Personnel Supervision and Management. The position was re-established Aug 6, 1942, as the Office of the Chief Clerk and Administrative Assistant, and abolished in the reorganization of Jan 15, 1944, with functions transferred to the Division of Administrative Management.

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