Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Commission of Fine Arts

(Record Group 66)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 66.1 Administrative History
  • 66.2 Records of the Commission 1902-90
    • 66.2.1 General records
    • 66.2.2 Records relating to projects
  • 66.3 Cartographic Records (General) Ca. 1910-52
  • 66.4 Still Pictures (General) 1893-1960

66.1 Administrative History

Established: As an independent agency by an act of May 17, 1910 (36 Stat. 371).

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Commissioners for the District of Columbia (1791-1802)
  • Superintendent of the City of Washington (1802-16)
  • Commissioner of Public Buildings (1816-49)
In the Department of the Interior:
  • Commissioner of Public Buildings (1849-67)
In the Office of the Chief of Engineers, War Department:
  • Office of Public Buildings and Grounds (1867-1910)
Functions: Advises, at the request of the President or any Congressional committee, on all matters of art with which the federal government is concerned, specifically on the location of statues, fountains, and monuments in the District of Columbia; the plans and designs for public structures and parks in the District; the selection of artists and models for statues, fountains, and monuments erected by the United States; and the design and execution of medals, insignia, and coins.

In accordance with the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 (46 Stat. 366) and the Old Georgetown Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 903), the commission advises on the height, color, design, and exterior appearance of private buildings in specified areas of the District and reviews permits for the construction, alteration, reconstruction, or razing of any buildings in Old Georgetown, an historic district lying within Washington, DC.

Finding Aids: Dorothy S. Provine, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Commission of Fine Arts, PI 79 (1976).

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the Commission of Fine Arts in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records relating to the location of monuments, statues, and memorials in the District before 1910 in RG 42, Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds.

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66.2 Records of the Commission

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66.2.1 General records

Textual Records: Transcripts of meetings, 1946-55, 1963-83. Microfilm copies of minutes of meetings, 1910-90 (26 rolls), with indexes, 1910-90 (3 rolls). General correspondence, 1910-42. Correspondence of the Secretary and Executive Officer, 1910-40. General subject files, consisting of correspondence, reports, drafts of speeches and articles, published material, and other items pertaining to art and architecture in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, 1910-54. Central files, containing correspondence, plans, reports, and other material relating to projects presented to the commission for its advice, 1920-78. Legislative files, 1947-60. Records relating to the commission's survey of government and art, 1951-53. Case files concerning proposed legislation relating to the design, development, and physical planning for the city of Washington, 1961-71. Papers of Chairman Charles Moore, ca. 1915-42. Papers of Secretary Hans Paul Caemmerer, ca. 1922-54.

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66.2.2 Records relating to projects

Textual Records: Project files, containing information on such projects as American cemeteries in Europe, the Arkansas Centennial Coin, the Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, development of the Federal Triangle and its buildings, Union Station Plaza, and the Jeanne d'Arc statue in Meridian Hill Park, 1910-78. Case files of submissions under the Shipstead-Luce Act, 1930-78. Case files of submissions under the Old Georgetown Act, 1950-79. District of Columbia historic subdivisions case files, 1976-79. Microfilm index to the Shipstead-Luce Act and Old Georgetown Act cases, 1930-90 (9 rolls). Scrapbooks, 1902-33.

Finding Aids: A list of projects is available as an appendix to Preliminary Inventory 79.

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66.3 Cartographic Records (General)
Ca. 1910-52

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Plans, blueprints, drawings, plats, and other oversize materials relating primarily to projects both in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, 1910-52 (5,000 items), and outside Washington, including foreign countries, 1921-50 (800 items), submitted to the commission for its advice and recommendation.

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66.4 Still Pictures (General)

Photographic Prints: State capitols, n.d., (USC, 45 images). Sculptures and models of sculptures submitted in solicitation of commissions, in folios, 1920-60 (SS, 1,147 images). History of early Washington and the development of the national capital, 1950, including photographs of artworks dating from 1774 to 1948 (HW, 219 images).

Photographic Prints and Negatives, Photographs of Artworks, and Lantern Slides: Washington, DC; colonial and federal-era buildings in the eastern United States; 18th and 19th century notable individuals; public parks and gardens in the United States and Europe; art and architecture of Europe, Mesoamerica, Egypt, and Babylon; American cemeteries in Europe; statues, monuments, medals, and paintings; and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, IL, 1893-1950 (G, 6,793 images).

Photographic Prints and Assorted Graphic Media: Scenes of Washington, DC; monuments; flags; insignia and certificates; and panoramas of Panama Canal construction, 1910-50 (M, 83 images).

Microfilm Publications: M1148.

Related Records: Additional photographs of Washington, DC, in the Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, RG 30, series N; Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, RG 42; Records of the Public Buildings Service, RG 121; Records of the National Capital Housing Authority, RG 302; and Records of the National Capital Planning Commission, RG 328. Additional photographs of art and sculpture in the Records of the Work Projects Administration, RG 69; and Records of the Public Buildings Service, RG 121. Additional photographs of European architecture and landscaping in the Records of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, RG 151; and Records of the National Capital Housing Authority, RG 302.

Subject Access Terms: Arboretums (series G photographs); Boston (series G photographs); botanical gardens (series G photographs); bridges (series G photographs); churches (series G photographs); housing projects (series G photographs); Mt. Vernon (series G photographs); New York City (series G photographs); Williamsburg (series G photographs).

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

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