Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

(Record Group 318)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 318.1 Administrative History
  • 318.2 Records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the First Division, National Currency Bureau 1862-1966
    • 318.2.1 General records
    • 318.2.2 Records relating to the engraving and printing of currency
    • 318.2.3 Records relating to national banks
  • 318.3 Still Pictures (General) 1862-1965

318.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Department of the Treasury by administrative order, 1869, with appointment of first bureau chief, March 17, 1869. First recognized in law by an act of March 3, 1869 (15 Stat. 312) prohibiting the "engraving and printing bureau" from doing private contract work. Initially recognized for appropriation purposes by an act of June 20, 1874 (18 Stat. 110).

Predecessor Agencies:

  • First Division, National Currency Bureau (1862-69)

Functions: Designs, engraves, and prints for the federal government and U.S. insular possessions all paper currency, bonds, notes, bills, and certificates; obligations of government- owned corporations; revenue, customs, and postage stamps; government checks; and other engraved documents.

Finding Aids: William F. Sherman, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing," NC 47 (February 1964); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

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318.2 Records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the First Division, National Currency Bureau

History: Engraving and printing of federal notes first authorized by an act of December 23, 1857 (11 Stat. 257). An act of February 25, 1862 (12 Stat. 346), required engraved signatures and imprinted Treasury seal on all notes, and an act of July 11, 1862 (12 Stat. 532), authorized such engraving to be done at the Treasury Department, using government personnel and equipment. Under the latter authority, an experimental engraving and printing operation was established in the Treasury Department, from which the personnel and equipment were drawn to organize the First Division of the National Currency Bureau, established by the National Banking Act (12 Stat. 665), February 25, 1863. The First Division, responsible for engraving and printing federally backed bank notes, and known informally as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as early as 1866, was formally separated from the National Currency Bureau by administrative order in 1869. See 318.1.

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318.2.1 General records

Textual Records: General and miscellaneous letters sent, 1862- 1912. Letters sent relating to personnel and supplies, 1871-89. Letters received relating to bureau activities and including printing orders for currency, stamps, and bonds, 1864-1912. Letters received relating to supplies, 1870-75. Indexes to letters received and sent, 1885-1913. Central correspondence files, 1913-49. Registers of applications for employment, 1869- 1912, with index. Lists of employees, 1862-1930. Registers of personnel designations and changes, December 1878-February 1951.

Related Records: General correspondence between the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, correspondence about bureau appointments, and personnel registers in General Records of the Department of the Treasury, RG 56. Agency payrolls to 1894 in Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, RG 217.

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318.2.2 Records relating to the engraving and printing of

Textual Records: Records, 1880-1966, of dies made and used between 1863 and 1966. Records of rolls, 1863-1966. Records of plates, 1875-1966, with indexes, 1902-9, including plates for the currency series of 1882, 1902, and 1902-8. Records, 1882-1914, of back and tint plates produced and used between 1882 and 1898. Records of seal, lathe panel, and numeral dies, 1882-1966. Records of altos, 1929-54. Specimens of currency produced from dies of the Continental and National Bank Note Companies, 1864- 82. Miscellaneous fiscal records, 1872-1950.

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318.2.3 Records relating to national banks

Textual Records: Alphabetical lists, by state, of active and closed national banks, 1873-1904, 1909-30. Alphabetical list, by state, of national banks (1865-1922), 1922. Numerical list of active national banks, 1905, annotated to show alterations in plates to June 1909. Numerical list of national banks (1864-1901), 1901. Two undated numerical lists of national banks.

Related Records: Alphabetical list, by state, of active national banks, 1863-1930, in Records of the Comptroller of the Currency, RG 101.

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318.3 Still Pictures (General)

Photographs: Accepted and rejected designs for stamps and currency, bureau activities, public buildings, and notable Americans, 1924-42 (D: 4,200 images).

Engravings: Portraits of some U.S. Presidents, cabinet members, justices of the Supreme Court, and other officials, printed from bureau plates, 1862-1965 (MP: 225 images).

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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