Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention


(Record Group 360)
1765-1821 (bulk 1774-89)

OVERVIEW OF RECORDS LOCATIONS

Table of Contents

  • 360.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 360.2 RECORDS OF THE CONTINENTAL AND CONFEDERATION CONGRESSES (NUMBERED SERIES) 1765-1821
  • 360.2.1 Records relating to Congressional activities
  • 360.2.2 Records relating to foreign affairs
  • 360.2.3 Records relating to fiscal affairs
  • 360.2.4 Records relating to military affairs
  • 360.2.5 Records relating to naval affairs
  • 360.2.6 Records relating to territorial and state affairs
  • 360.2.7 Records relating to Indian affairs
  • 360.2.8 Other records
  • 360.3 MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS OF THE CONTINENTAL AND CONFEDERATION CONGRESSES (UNNUMBERED SERIES) 1774-1802
  • 360.3.1 Records relating to foreign affairs
  • 360.3.2 Records relating to fiscal affairs
  • 360.3.3 Records relating to naval affairs
  • 360.3.4 Records relating to territorial and state affairs
  • 360.3.5 Records relating to Congressional affairs
  • 360.3.6 Founding documents
  • 360.4 RECORDS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION 1787
  • 360.5 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL) 1781 1 item

360.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Note: Congress gave the Department of State custody of the records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses, 1789. Secretary of State Timothy Pickering received the official records of the Constitutional Convention from President Washington, 1796. All but a few of the records were transferred to the Library of Congress, 1903-22. Those records in the Library, as official records of the Federal Government, were transferred to the National Archives, 1952.

Finding Aids: Kenneth E. Harris and Steven D. Tilley, comps., Index: Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1976); John P. Butler, comp., Index: Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1978). Howard H. Wehmann, comp., and Benjamin L. DeWhitt, rev., A Guide to Pre-Federal Records in the National Archives (1989).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and of the Constitutional Convention in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

360.2 RECORDS OF THE CONTINENTAL AND CONFEDERATION CONGRESSES
(NUMBERED SERIES)
1765-1821

History: First Continental Congress met September 5-October 26, 1774, following calls for a general congress from Rhode Island (May 17), Pennsylvania (May 21), New York (May 23), and Massachusetts (June 17). Second Continental Congress met May 10, 1775, by resolution of the First Continental Congress, October 22, 1774; became the Confederation Congress ("United States in Congress Assembled"), March 2, 1781, following ratification of the Articles of Confederation, March 1, 1781. Confederation Congress superseded by the Federal Government, March 4, 1789.

Note: Most of the records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses, 1774-89, are arranged (in 518 bindings) in a numerical sequence of 196 series referred to as item numbers (Items). The numbers 1-194 were assigned by William A. Weaver, a clerk in the Department of State, and listed in his Catalogue of Manuscript Books (1835). The numbers 195 and 196 were added after the records came into the custody of the Library of Congress, 1903. The miscellaneous records of the Continental Congress that are not a part of the numbered series (Items) of bound volumes are described UNDER 360.3.

Microfilm Publications: M247.

360.2.1 Records relating to Congressional activities

Textual Records: Rough journals, 1774-89; transcript journals, 1775-79; and secret journals, 1775-88. Letter books of the Presidents of the Congresses, 1775-87, including those of John Hancock, Henry Laurens, John Jay, Samuel Huntington, Thomas McKean, John Hanson, Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, and Arthur St. Clair; and letters addressed to the Congresses, 1775-89. Letter books of Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress, including letters sent, 1779-89; a general index to the records of the Confederation Congress, 1781-89; and other letters and records, 1781-89. Reports of the Committee of the Week, 1781-85; and of the Secretary of the Confederation Congress, 1785-88. Credentials of Delegates from the states to the Confederation Congress, and registers and indexes kept by the Secretary, 1781-89. Books of motions made in the Congress, 1777- 88; sundry motions and resolves of the Congress, 1775-86, 1788; and memorials, petitions, and remonstrances addressed to the Congress, 1775-89. Ordinances of the Confederation Congress, 1781-88. Letter book of the Executive Committee, Second Continental Congress, 1776-77. Records of the Office of Congress, 1781-89; and intercepted letters, 1775-81. Committee reports of the Congresses, including those of the Committee of the States, 1784, appointed to transact the business of the Confederation Congress (June 4-October 31, 1784). Reports on the administrative affairs of the Congress, establishment of a residence for its president, and the qualifications of its members, 1775-88; and proceedings of the Convention of Committees at New Haven, CT, 1778, and Hartford, CT, 1779-80. Drafts of the Articles of Confederation and a record of the proceedings of the Second Continental Congress, relating to the adoption and ratification of the Articles; and proposals on locating the seat of government and printing the journals, 1777-89.

360.2.2 Records relating to foreign affairs

Textual Records: Letters and reports of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and of Secretaries for Foreign Affairs Robert R. Livingston and John Jay, 1776-83, 1785-88. Foreign letters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of State, 1785- 90. Departmental daily journal or dispatch book, 1781-83, 1784- 90; and resolve book, 1785-89. Treaties and contracts, 1778-88. Commissions and letters of credence of foreign ministers and consuls, 1778-1821. Letters from the Joint Commissioners for Negotiating Treaties with France and Great Britain, 1774-84; and the Joint Commissioners for the Formation of Treaties of Amity and Commerce, 1784-86. Letters with enclosures from diplomatic and consular representatives of France in the United States, 1778-90. Letters from ministers of France in the United States, 1779-84; and ministers representing the United Provinces of the Netherlands, 1783-96. Records relating to the Barbary Powers, 1779-92, 1795; and Spain, 1780-89. Records relating to American trade in the French West Indies, 1788-89. Applications for passports or sea letters, 1788-93. Records and accounts of Silas Deane, Beaumarchais, and Arthur Lee, 1776-84. Letters from U.S. diplomatic representatives, including Arthur Lee, 1776-80; Benjamin Franklin, 1776-88; William Carmichael, 1776-91; Charles W.F. Dumas, 1776-96; William Bingham, 1772-82; Ralph Izard, 1777- 84; John Adams, 1777-88; William S. Smith, 1779-89; Thomas Barclay and John Lamb, 1782-88; and Thomas Jefferson, 1785-89. Records relating to the claims for captured vessels, 1777-84. Committee reports relating to Canada, treaties, and foreign loans, 1776-86; and to foreign affairs, 1776-88.

360.2.3 Records relating to fiscal affairs

Textual Records: Committee reports on the operation of the Board of Treasury and the national finances, 1776-88. Reports of the Committee of Commerce; reports on the 1781 public debt; and estimates of expenses, 1779-86. Letters and reports from the Comptroller of the Treasury and claims of Canadian refugees, 1783-86. Reports on domestic loans and loan offices and on foreign loans, 1776-86. Records of the Board of Treasury, 1776- 81, 1784-89, including reports on applications from the states, a plan for selling public lands, letters, and bonds required by appointed commissioners. Letters and reports of Superintendent of Finance and Agent of Marine Robert Morris, 1781-85, with an appendix volume, 1776-78, 1781-86. Estimates and statements of receipts and expenditures, 1780-88. Estimates and other records relating to the Treasury, including records on the Grand Committee of Congress which considered the national debt, 1780- 88. Records of bankers in Holland and contracts for loans, 1779- 90. Records relating to investigations of Treasury offices, 1780- 81. Accounts of the Register's Office, 1781-83. Records respecting unsettled accounts, 1788, and returns of stores, 1783- 84. Incidental accounts (office expenses) of Charles Thomson, 1785-89.

360.2.4 Records relating to military affairs

Textual Records: Oaths of allegiance of military and public officers, 1776-89. Reports on the army and its various units, 1775-85. Reports of the Commissioners of Accounts from the Clothing and Hospital Departments, 1777-88; reports on the War Office and the Department of War, 1776-88; and reports on the Prisoners' Department, 1776-86. Reports of the Committees of Conference with the Commander in Chief at Cambridge, 1775, and at Valley Forge, 1778-79. Reports of committees on the Philadelphia mutiny and the peacetime establishment, 1783-86. Records of the Committee to Headquarters appointed to confer with the Commander in Chief, 1780. Reports on the Commissary Department and on the loss of certain army posts, 1776-86. Records relating to the British evacuation of New York, 1783. Records and affidavits relating to British depredations, 1775-84. Records of the Board of War and Ordnance, 1776-81, including letters from the Secretary and Paymaster of the Board. Records concerning the "convention troops," 1777-80. Letters and reports from Secretary at War Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, 1781-83; and letters and reports from Secretary at War Maj. Gen. Henry Knox, 1785-88. Letters from Gen. George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Army, 1775-84. Letters of Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, 1780-83, with various records relating to the Quartermaster's Department, 1778-80. Letters from generals and other officers, 1775-89, including transcripts of letters from military officers, 1775-83. Letters from the Comte d'Estaing, 1777-86. Letters and records relating to the exchange of officers, 1778, 1780. Letters and reports from the Paymaster General and Commissioner for Army Accounts, 1781-88. Records relating to charges against Gen. John Sullivan and Dr. John Morgan and to British advances in the Mohawk Valley, 1776-79; and to the trial of Capt. Richard Lippincott, 1782.

360.2.5 Records relating to naval affairs

Textual Records: Reports on the Board of Admiralty and Agent of Marine, 1776-86; and of the Marine Committee and Board of Admiralty, 1776-81. Ship bonds required for letters of marque and reprisal granted by the states, 1776-83. Letters and records of John Paul Jones, 1777-91, including transcripts of letters, 1778- 80. Correspondence of Capt. Jones, and records relating to the trials of Capt. Peter Landais and Lt. James Degge, 1778-81.

360.2.6 Records relating to territorial and state affairs

Textual Records: Narrative of a journey to the western country by an Indian, n.d. Petitions about the Indiana region, 1779-83. Ordinances of the Confederation Congress and other records relating to the Western Territory of the United States, 1787-88. Memorials of the inhabitants of Illinois, Kaskaskia, and Kentucky, 1780-89. Reports relating to communications received from governors and other state officials, 1777-88. Committee reports on relations between the Congress and the states, 1775- 86. Reports on lands in the Western Territory, 1776-88. Committee reports and records on claims of New York and Vermont to the New Hampshire Grants, 1776-84. Letters received by Congresses (State Papers), 1775-91, from governors and other state officials, committees of safety, and state assemblies, relating to the coordination of the Congress and the state governments; and including records relating to claims of territory by Pennsylvania and Connecticut, 1780-85. Letters from Thomas Hutchins, relating to his duties as Geographer of the United States in surveying state boundaries, 1781-88. Statistics on population of certain states and calculations of the land area of the United States and the Western Territory, 1774-86.

360.2.7 Records relating to Indian affairs

Textual Records: Proceedings of commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the Six Nations of Indians, 1775. Records relating to negotiations with northern Indians, 1776-79. Copies of Indian treaties, 1784-86. Committee reports, 1776-88. Miscellaneous records relating to Indians, 1765-89.

360.2.8 Other records

Textual Records: Reports on the Executive departments, 1776-86. Records of Postmasters General, and of committees of the Congress on the post office, 1776-88. Committee reports on applications from individuals, 1776-89. Reports on hospitals and applications of invalids, 1776-88.

360.3 MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS OF THE CONTINENTAL AND CONFEDERATION
CONGRESSES (UNNUMBERED SERIES)
1774-1802

Note: The miscellaneous records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses consist of those records not a part of the numbered series of volumes comprising the main body of records.

Microfilm Publications: M332.

360.3.1 Records relating to foreign affairs

Textual Records: Ordinance establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs, 1781. Records of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1782-88 (bulk 1782-83). Diplomatic letters and dispatches, many duplicating those in the numbered series, received from Charles W.F. Dumas, 1777-82; Benjamin Franklin, 1777, 1779-84; John Adams, 1779-83, 1785; Francis W. Dana, 1780-83; William Carmichael, 1780-83, 1785; Ralph Izard, 1777, 1779; Arthur Lee, 1777-79; Ralph Laurens, 1781; Henry Laurens, 1781-84; and John Jay, 1781. Letters, memorials, and notes from the Ministers of France in the United States, 1778-79, 1782. Letters of Louis XVI of France received by the Congress, 1778-87. Letters from the Marquis de Lafayette, 1782-83. Letters relating to Spain and the Barbary States, 1779-86. Draft of the proclamation by the Confederation Congress, declaring the cessation of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain, April 10, 1783. Draft of a commission for John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate a commercial treaty with Denmark, May 12, 1784. Copy of the treaty signed by the United States and Prussia and ratified by the Confederation Congress, 1786.

360.3.2 Records relating to fiscal affairs

Textual Records: Edict of Louis XVI providing for the payment at Amsterdam of interest and capital of certain royal loans due in the United Provinces of the Netherlands, June 1, 1786. Correspondence of the Amsterdam firm of John de Neufville and Son with American diplomats, 1778-85; and letters from the Amsterdam firms of Jacob van Staphorst, Wilhelm and Jan Willink, and DeLande and Fynje, 1782-89. Bills, 1782-83, drawn on Ferdinand Grand, Parisian banker; records of issuance and payment of numbered notes issued by the Superintendent of Finance, 1782-83; and bonds submitted to Congress by the Board of Treasury Commissioners, 1785-87.

360.3.3 Records relating to naval affairs

Textual Records: Reports of the Marine Committee, 1776-79. Marine Committee letter book, 1776-80. Account of commissions for private armed vessels, received and forwarded to the several states, 1779-83.

360.3.4 Records relating to territorial and state affairs

Textual Records: Records relating to VA, MA, and NY, and to the PA and CT boundary dispute, 1779-1802. Deeds of cession of western lands, with related documents, for CT, GA, MA, NY, NC, SC, and VA, 1779-1802.

360.3.5 Records relating to Congressional affairs

Textual Records: Credentials of delegates from each state to Congress, 1774-89. Broadsides and other imprints issued by Congress, 1775-88. "Bankson's Journal," prepared for Secretary Charles Thomson and containing copies of various reports, resolutions, credentials, and acts of the period, 1786-90.

360.3.6 Founding documents

Textual records: The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, "fairly engrossed on parchment," as directed by the Continental Congress, July 19, 1776. Copies of the Articles of Confederation, July 9, 1778; proceedings of the Annapolis Convention, Sept. 11- 14, 1786; and the Articles of Association, Oct. 20, 1794.

360.4 RECORDS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
1787

History: The Constitutional Convention, attended by delegates from each of the states except Rhode Island, met in Philadelphia, May 14-September 17, 1787.

Textual Records: Journal of the Convention, May 14-September 15, 1787. Journal of the Proceedings of the Committee of the Whole House, May 30-June 19, 1787. Volume containing a detail of the yeas and nays given on questions in the Convention, 1787, including loose sheets of yeas and nays (now bound into one volume). Two copies of the Virginia Plan as amended in the Philadelphia Convention, June 13, 1787. Washington's annotated printed draft of the Constitution, as reported by the Committee of Detail, August 6, 1787. Draft of the letter from the Convention to the Confederation Congress, to accompany the Constitution, n.d. Letters received by the Convention from various sources, 1787. Documents transmitted (May 22, 1818) by David Brearley, a New Jersey delegate, to John Q. Adams, Secretary of State, including a copy of the propositions offered to the Convention by William Paterson, June 15, 1787; a copy of a plan for a constitution ("Plan of Government") presented in a speech to the Convention by Alexander Hamilton, June 18, 1787; two copies of the population returns of the several states, 1787; a copy of the resolutions submitted to the Convention by Edmond Randolph of Virginia on May 29, 1787; a copy of the report of the grand Committee on the eighth resolution reported from the Committee of the Whole House, and as much of the seventh as had not been decided upon, July 5, 1787; an annotated printed draft of the Constitution brought into the Convention, August 6, 1787, and reported by the Committee of Detail; and an annotated printed draft of the Constitution brought into the Convention by the Committee on revision of Style and Arrangement, September 12, 1787. An original motion in the hand of Elbridge Gerry, July 24, 1787.

Microfilm Publications: M866.

Related Records: Engrossed copies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; their instruments of ratification; and the resolution of the Constitutional Convention accompanying the Constitution, in RG 11, General Records of the U.S. Government.

360.5 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
1781
1 item

Map: Revolutionary War battlefield of Yorktown, VA, compiled by Lt. Col. Jean-Baptiste Gouvion, 1781.


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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