National Archives at San Francisco

Records for the Study of Science, Technology, Natural Resources

Reference Information Paper 100
National Archives and Records Administration, 1996

Please note: This paper has not been updated since its publication in 1996. We recommend that you contact us prior to visiting to review original records.


The National Archives at San Francisco is part of the National Archives and Records Administration, a Federal agency. It is the depository for the permanently valuable, noncurrent records of Federal courts and agencies in northern California, Hawaii, Nevada (except Clark County), American Samoa, Guam, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.


The struggle for control and use of natural resources is a contemporary issue in American life and was also a central theme in the history of U.S. expansion into the American West. Because the U.S. Government has held title to vast acreage of western land, Federal agencies and courts have played a major role in the development of the West's natural resources and the adjudication of disputes involving these lands. Advances in science and technology during the 19th and 20th centuries enhanced environmental control and natural resource development through such efforts as flood control and irrigation projects, hydroelectric dams, pollution control, and soil conservation practices. Federally-supported scientific research has enabled aeronautic advances and explored the uses of atomic energy beyond the limits of Earth and its environment.

The National Archives at San Francisco, a repository for the historically valuable noncurrent records of the Federal Government, is a major source for research in the study of science, technology, natural resources, and the environment. One of the National Archives and Records Administration's 13 regional archives, it maintains historical records of Federal agencies in northern California, Hawaii, Nevada (except Clark County), American Samoa, Guam, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

The records contain valuable historical information relating to the environment, including land use, natural resources, water, and wildlife, as well as scientific and technological advances in aeronautics, atomic energy, civil and marine engineering, and public health.

Records in the National Archives at San Francisco are not arranged according to subject but are kept in numbered record groups established for the Government agencies that created or received them. Although arrangement by record group (abbreviated RG) makes subject access more difficult at times, it preserves the organizational and contextual integrity of the records, making them more easily understood. A list of record groups cited in this publication is at the end of this publication.

To facilitate use of its holdings by researchers, the Archives attempts wherever possible to describe records by subject. This brochure provides descriptions of records at the National Archives at San Francisco that document developments in environment, science, and technology in northern California, Nevada, and other western States.

This reference information paper was prepared by Larisa K. Miller, Archivist, The National Archives at San Francisco.


Aeronautics and Aviation

The records of the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, 1939-1971, part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, RG 255), document theoretical and applied research and testing related to aeronautics and space technology. Subjects covered include aerodynamics, ballistics, dive-stress, flight simulation, high-performance aircraft technology, instrument development, metallurgy, satellite reentry, wind-tunnel tests of aircraft, wing deicing, and airframe problems such as duct-rumbling.

Records of the Atomic Energy Commission's Operations Office in San Francisco, 1957-1965 (in RG 326), include documentation of the 28-Pluto program, which involved the development of nuclear-powered aircraft, and planning of the SNAPSHOT program to establish nuclear power sources in orbital space systems.

Information relating to maintenance of aircraft and equipment and training of pilots may be found in Army Air Forces records (RG 18). These include records of air fields and depots in California and Hawaii, 1918-1940, and records of the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of California, Berkeley, 1917-1919. For example, a notebook lists the equipment carried in aerial reconnaissance: maps, 3 pencils (black, blue, and red, with point protection), wristwatch, liquid compass (on wrist), writing pad (on wrist or rolled on roller), telescope, and camera.

Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (RG 181) include those of naval air installations in California and Hawaii, 1939-1960. Among the subjects covered are maintenance and repair of aircraft, inspection of planes, and control and operation of air strips.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, RG 237) records for the Pacific area, 1946-1960, pertain to the construction of air facilities and installation and repair of electronic equipment in the Hawaiian Islands and other Pacific locations. FAA records also include those of the Civil Aeronautics Authority International District Office in San Francisco, 1947-1956, which document accident investigations, airport approach procedures, and inspections.

A report on aerial bomb dropping experiments performed in San Diego in 1914, with tabular results and photographs of craters, debris, and explosions, is among the records of the Benicia Arsenal, part of the records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (RG 156).


Agriculture and Related Research

The records of the Pacific Southwest Regional Office of the Soil Conservation Service's Pacific Southwest Regional Office (in RG 114) focus on land use in the 1930's, including agronomy, erosion control practices, and soil conservation. Area offices in California and Nevada performed erosion control evaluation surveys, developed individual farm plans, and conducted other aspects of local soil conservation operations.

As part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (RG 75), the Soil and Moisture Conservation Operations office of the Carson (Nevada) Agency carried out various land improvement projects. These included efforts to correct erosion, salinity, and water conservation problems; erect fencing; perform seeding; develop proper grazing practices; and produce supplemental feed on cropland. Records of these land management projects date from 1938 to 1950. Implementation of proper farm management practices in the 1930's and 1940's is also documented in the records of the Carson Agency extension agents. Extension programs in livestock and poultry production, gardening, and cultivation of field crops such as alfalfa, grains, and potatoes are described in narrative and statistical reports and demonstrated in photographs.

Farm ownership loan files, among the records of the Farmers Home Administration (RG 96), document the condition of individual agricultural operations in California and Hawaii in the late 1930's and early 1940's, when applications for farm loans were made. The case files typically contain loan applications, appraisal reports, farm and home plans, and other records relating to the processing of the loan. The farm plans quantify crop, land, livestock, and machinery assets and liabilities, as well as crop, livestock, and poultry production anticipated for the coming year. The home plans report food consumption, by food produced and purchased, and the household operation budget, including clothing, medical care, and other categories.

The "Annual Market News," produced by the northern California field headquarters of the Agricultural Marketing Service (in RG 136), consists of weekly, monthly, and yearly reports of agricultural production and the prices for crops such as barley, beans, hops, rice, and wheat. The reports, 1935-1948, show fluctuations in production for northern and central California and compare that production to other agricultural areas in the nation and world.

The Western Regional Research Center of the Agricultural Research Service (RG 310) performed basic and applied research on new uses and markets for agricultural products. These included apples and other fruits, cereals, seeds, vegetables, and their by-products, such as juices and oils. In addition to technical reports and other textual records dating from the 1930's to the 1970's, there is an extensive collection of photographs documenting research projects and processing equipment.

Studies relating to agricultural production, crop estimates, marketing, finance, labor, and other agricultural problems were conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (RG 83) in the 1930's and 1940's. Records of the Bureau's Western Regional Office include materials from California's Central Valley project studies, farm management and farm population project records, and state and local land use planning records.

The Guam Agricultural Experiment Station, a component of the Cooperative State Research Service (RG 164), performed experimental work in animal husbandry, agronomy, entomology, and horticulture, and conducted extension activities for local farmers and their children. The records, 1908-1932, include informational manuscripts on subjects such as vegetable growing in Guam. Also included are narrative progress reports of experiments, such as feeding tests for improved swine rations and breeding programs for insects such as sugar cane borer parasites, which focus on life cycles and feeding patterns.


Atomic Energy

The records of the San Francisco Operations Office of the Atomic Energy Commission (in RG 326) contain information relating to reactor development and contract work performed by Atomics International, Northrop, General Dynamics, and other firms. Included are records of the Pluto ram-jet project (nuclear-powered aircraft), and SNAP (Subsystems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power) studies.

The records of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), a research facility of the Department of Energy (RG 326/RG 434) managed by the University of California, Berkeley, include records of LBL director Edwin McMillan, 1941-1972, and scientists Luis Alvarez and Melvin Calvin. Holdings also include records of the 184-Inch Cyclotron, 1940-1987, which consist of mechanical engineering drawings, operations log books, notebooks, and photographs of cyclotron equipment, processes, and results; and records of the 300 Million Electron Volt (MEV) Synchrotron, 1947-1966. A nontechnical, timeless 1946 entry in the 184-Inch Cyclotron logbooks states, "Little reliance should be placed on the Zeus instrument as it stands since there is little question that it blocks midway on the second scale. When do we get some decent radiation instruments!!!"

Other LBL records include those pertaining to significant project planning and design, 1940-1981, and 88-Inch Cyclotron research and development case files, 1939-1970. Also included are photographs, 1944-1975, depicting subjects such as research in progress involving the Bevatron, Cyclotrons, Bubble Chamber, Cloud Chamber, and other equipment and facilities; custom-designed equipment and model machinery; and Donner Laboratory medical experiments.

The records of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, 1946-1969, relate to nuclear testing projects, including radioactive contamination of sites, material and personnel, and methods of decontamination. Records of radiation surveys of, and decontamination efforts on, vessels involved in Operation Crossroads are among the records of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Both the laboratory and shipyard files may be found in the records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (RG 181).

Technical reports of the Army Engineer Nuclear Cratering Group, organized within the Office of the Chief of Engineers (RG 77), focus on the 1960's nuclear excavation research program, which involved field and laboratory studies of the geologic and engineering properties of craters excavated using nuclear explosives and intended for civil engineering use.


Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Cases involving patent or copyright infringement are available in the records of U.S. District Courts (RG 21). These records reflect the work of late 19th and early 20th century engineers, inventors, and manufacturers in the development of machinery. For example, a case involving John Hammond's 1891 patent of design for a double-end railway car led to the voiding of Hammond's patent after evidence of earlier use of double-enders in San Francisco was introduced. Some of the other patent infringement cases involved clothes wringers, corsets, drawing and drafting tools, elevators, farm equipment, hydraulic dredging machinery, raisin seeders, traction engines, and water wheels. Exhibit materials in the records sometimes include drawings and photographs.

Civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers focus on flood control and maintenance and improvement of inland waterways and harbors. Records of Army Engineer districts in northern California and Hawaii, 1853-1973, are among the records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers (RG 77). They provide economic, geological, and hydrological data about construction projects and their impact on the surrounding area. The records include engineering drawings and studies, field survey notebooks, flood control reports, harbor defense reports, photographs of projects, project files, structural permit files, and topographical and hydrological data files. A 1922 Honolulu District memorandum relating to marine borers discusses the types of protective sheathing used for wooden piles in wharf construction, as well as the durability of reinforced concrete structures in Hawaiian waters.

One example of a civil works project is the Reber Plan (in RG 77), developed in the 1940's by John Reber. The plan proposed the construction of barriers across San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay to create two freshwater lakes. Consideration of the Reber Plan triggered Congressional hearings and construction of the San Francisco Bay model to study it and other development plans. However, the plan was never implemented.

The California Debris Commission was established by the Caminetti Act of 1893 to regulate hydraulic mining and thus keep the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds free of hydraulic mining debris. The Commission, which operated within the Army Corps of Engineers (RG 77), developed standards for the construction of debris control dams, constructed dams in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and inspected dams built by hydraulic miners. Hydraulic mining permit application files and other Commission records, 1906-1965, provide information about debris dam construction projects.

The records of the Federal Power Commission Regional Engineer, 1924-1967, relate to reservoir and dam projects constructed for energy and flood-control purposes in the western states. They are among the records of the Federal Energy Regulatory commission (RG 138).

Engineering design and construction records, 1950-1967, of the Soil Conservation Service (RG 114), document SCS-supervised watershed projects implemented to protect flood plain areas in California.

Studies of irrigation engineering and river development, including underground water storage in southern California, may be found in the records of the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, 1889-1935 (RG 8). Among the records is a 1903 draft report on irrigation in the West that discusses the four leading methods of irrigating farmland and the advantages and costs of each. Also included is an extensive collection of photographs of irrigation activities, dam construction, pipeline development and methods of water application in the U.S. and abroad.

The records of the Bureau of Public Roads (RG 30) and the Federal Highway Administration (RG 406) document highway projects in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada from the 1920's through the 1970's. The records are primarily route report case files, which provide information on construction materials and standards, drainage, existing road surface, terrain, and traffic volume. Maps and photographs are sometimes included.

The Western Region Engineering Branch of the National Park Service (RG 79) performed field surveys, constructed roads, and built and operated locks, reservoirs, and dams. The Branch's records (in RG 79) date from 1913 to 1966. Roads constructed on Bureau of Indian Affairs land are often documented in the records of the BIA (RG 75).


Environmental Studies

Subjects covered in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, RG 412) records include enforcement of environmental law and establishment of permit granting procedures; Hawaiian sugar mill waste pollution; public hearings conducted by the state of California; speeches of EPA and California officials concerning the pollution of San Francisco Bay; and the Santa Barbara, California, oil spill of 1969.

Among records of the Geological Survey (RG 57) are those pertaining to preparation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline's environmental impact statement, 1970-1972.

Planning activities of the 1930's and early 1940's involving natural resources and economic trends are documented in the records of the Pacific Southwest Office of the National Resources Planning Board (in RG 187). The records relate to development of urban, industrial, and transportation systems; employment and population trends; land use patterns; resource conservation; and water, energy, and recreational resources. For example, the 1941 "Program of Adjustment in the Northern Sierra Nevada Area, California" discusses the economy, employment, natural resources, and problems, such as abandonment of orchards in the foothills and conflicts over livestock in the "forest marginal zone" in upper Yuba County. The report recommends public works and other projects to correct these and other problems.

Documentation of the built environment may be found in the real property disposal case files of the Federal Property Resources Service (RG 291), General Services Administration (RG 269), Public Buildings Service (RG 121), and the War Assets Administration (RG 270), as well as in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (RG 75) and Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (RG 181). Records of some of these agencies also include information about hazardous waste sites. Other records that may prove useful for toxic waste investigations at military sites may be found in files of the Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses (RG 392), Army Commands (RG 338), Office of the Chief of Engineers (RG 77), Office of the Chief of Ordnance (RG 156), and Office of the Quartermaster General (RG 92).

Many environmental management and conservation activities are documented in the records of the component agencies of the Department of Agriculture (such as the Forest Service, RG 95, and Soil Conservation Service, RG 114) and the Department of the Interior (such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, RG 75; Bureau of Land Management, RG 49; and National Park Service, RG 79). For example, Sierra National Forest grazing records, 1910's-1930's, include estimated capacity reports, records of conditions, annual reports, and annual work plans. The 1911 grazing report, which includes photographs, discusses problems such as the tourist-stockman conflict, in which tourists blamed stockmen for fed-down meadows along popular hiking trails. It suggested that "tourist pastures" be constructed to keep livestock away from well-traveled trails. Another problem, erosion in Boneyard Meadow, began after cattle replaced sheep on the meadow. Log and earth fills had been constructed at intervals throughout the meadow in an experimental attempt to control the erosion.



Some records of the Fish and Wildlife Service, 1946-1967 (RG 22), relate to review of proposed Army Corps of Engineers projects for their effects on fish and wildlife resources. A 1956 Truckee River study, concerning angler use of the Truckee River, is particularly well documented. Included are questionnaires recording number and type of fish caught.

The Area Coordinator of Fisheries in northern California worked directly with the fisheries industry to maintain seafood production during World War II. The coordinator's records include fishery data and compiled reports of the catch. Other records relate to increasing the catch. For example, a proposal to extend the salmon season off the coast of California discusses the environmental factors involved.

Information relating to a study of Columbia River fishing rights, 1914-1918, may be found in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Special Agent at Large in Nevada (in RG 75). The records, which document the special agent's investigation for a legal case, include affidavits of elderly Native Americans and letters from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. One such letter asks the special agent to examine the Lewis and Clark journals, which he believed mentioned facts that would be "against our contentions."

Fish management programs and activities in the national parks, including fish planting reports and fishing regulations, are documented in the records of the National Park Service (RG 79).

A 1939 report on the effects of hydraulic mining on fish life, and counts of fish passing through particular fish ladders in 1938, may be found in the records of the California Debris Commission (RG 77).



Forest Service records (RG 95) concern all aspects of 20th century national forest management, including land use, timber sales, reforestation, and disease, fire, and insect control. A collection of base series maps of the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station shows fire history, topography, vegetation, watershed, and land ownership and use for various locations in California.

Some National Park Service records (RG 79) document forest management activities at Park-administered sites, including activities of the lumber industry, fire protection and suppression, and pest control.

Farm forestry work, which focused on programs for managing woodland areas of farms, is documented in the records of the Soil Conservation Service (RG 114) from the 1930's and 1940's. A 1939 report on farm forestry accomplishments, illustrated with photographs, discusses the successful stabilization of gullies by constructing temporary check dams made of live willow cuttings. As an added bonus, many of the cuttings took root and grew. To promote the idea of forest management by farmers, the SCS helped find markets for farm timber products, such as firewood, mine timbers, and veneer blocks.

Northern District Court records (in RG 21) include files for cases involving the theft of timber from Federal lands. Most of those prosecuted were private mining companies using Federal resources for mine timbers and hydraulic mine pipelines.

A program to eradicate blister rust from white pine forests in Northern California and Oregon during the 1930's and 1940's is documented by the records of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine (RG 7). The records relate to labor shortages, use of prison labor, and establishment and operation of work camps. Other records relate to blister rust monitoring. A 1942 letter states that blister rust probably would not spread into California that year because spring winds were too weak to carry the spores from rust cankers in Oregon, the center of heavy pine infection

Records relating to national forest surveys and homestead entries are available in the records of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, RG 49). Other BLM records concern forest development and rehabilitation projects in California in the 1950's and 1960's.


Geology, Metals, and Mining

The records of the National Park Service (RG 79) Western Region geologist, 1936-1940, relate to the geology and paleontology of the following Park-administered sites: Boulder Dam, Capitol Reef, Lehman Caves, Pinnacles, Olympic, Santa Catalina, and Zion. A 1937 letter reports several discoveries made in Lehman Caves. A geologist noticed "bat droppings" in one room, although no bats inhabited the cave. Subsequent examination with a hand lens identified the specimens as fungi colonies. A predacious, cave-inhabiting insect, thought to be a new type, was described as "almost transparent" and "insensible to light."

Among the records of the Coast and Geodetic Survey (RG 23) are letters of the Assistant in Charge of Tidal Operations on the Pacific Coast, 1856-1877, containing observations of the effects of earthquakes on tides.

Records relating to mineral surveys and mining claims in California and Nevada may be found in records of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, RG 49), 1853-1981. In addition to mineral survey plat books, mineral tract books, registers of mineral entries, and other records of the general land offices, there are BLM California State Office files pertaining to mining locations, 1955-1961, and mining cases, 1956-1968. Mining claim case files for national forests in California may be found in records of the Forest Service (RG 95).

Records of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (in RG 21) include files for cases in which the Federal Government sought to revoke railroad land grants based on the Government's statutory right to regain lands with mineral deposits. The files include maps and other records relating to the assessment of lands for potential mineral development. The landmark environmental case Edwards Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company, in which hydraulic mining was ruled "a public and private nuisance," is also among the records, as are numerous cases resulting from the decision in this case. Mining company bankruptcies and disputes over mining claims are common subjects of cases of the U.S. District Court for Nevada. Records of mining and mineral resources cases on appeal may be found in the records of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1891-1964 (in RG 276). Much of the struggle to control copper in Montana was determined in appeals to the Ninth Circuit around the turn of the century. One such case questioned the actions of a court-appointed operator for the Snohomish and Tramway mines. Included in the case file is testimony of a mine inspector regarding the status and location of the Snohomish's drifts, levels, stopes, and exposed ore bodies, which he interpreted as evidence of the mine's depreciated value.

Records related to district and appellate court cases may also be found in the records of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (in RG 118), 1865-1977. For example, there are records of homestead litigation between the Hoopa Valley Indians and Swanson Mining Company.

Records of the California Debris Commission, established by the Caminetti Act of 1893 to regulate hydraulic mining, concern legal and illegal hydraulic mining activities and include a series of mining permit files. Also available are "gold dredging files," 1907-1934, which relate to dredging activities in the Sacramento river system. The records are filed with those of the Sacramento District of the Corps of Engineers (in RG 77).

Records of the San Francisco Mint (in RG 104), 1853-1963, relate to assay matters, coinage, and deposits of gold and silver bullion by mines in the western U.S. and abroad. Included are records of the following operations: assays, 1854-1956; bars, coins, and coinage, 1854-1943; gold and silver deposits and purchases, 1854-1963. Also available are records concerning producing mines, 1878-1922 and 1938-1940, and photographs of Mint operations, ca. 1885-1935. The records of the Carson City, Nevada, Branch Mint and Assay Office, 1877-1925, relate to assay matters, coinage, and deposits and purchases of gold and silver.


Land Use and Surveying

The National Archives at San Francisco holds records of many California and Nevada offices of the Bureau of Land Management, 1853-1981. The records of general land offices (in RG 49) pertain to land claims and document transactions relating to the disposal or use of public domain lands and their resources. Records of the California State Office, 1853-1981, and Nevada State Office, 1864-1974, concern such subjects as land tenure management and environmental studies and plans. The records of the Surveyor General of California, 1873-1921, and of Nevada, 1861-1920, concern survey work, as do the records of the Cadastral Engineering Service, California District, 1870-1945.

Use of Forest Service land and resources by individuals and groups, including timber, recreational, and residential users is documented in records of the Forest Service (RG 95). In addition to permit case files, which were maintained at individual forests in California and Nevada and span much of the 20th century, there are also Pacific Southwest Regional Office planning and management records.

Bureau of Land Management (RG 49) district offices in California and Nevada, which were established after the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act in 1934, were involved in range management programs. Their records (in RG 49) relate to range conservation and improvement projects, grazing appeals, and forage and range surveys. Records of BLM Grazing Service field offices in Nevada, 1932-1946, relate to grazing district boundaries and range and economic studies. For example, a collection of range conservation and improvement reports for Nevada includes a 1956 report for the Jiggs Community Watershed in Elko County. It discusses the history of grazing in the area, analyzes conditions, and suggests improvements. The impact of the creation of Humboldt National Forest, which ejected sheep onto and further overloaded the area, the instability of land ownership in sections formerly owned by railroads, and the benefits of fencing to control seasonal use of the range, are among the subjects covered.

Studies of the grazing economy of northeastern Nevada in the 1930's and 1940's, which discuss forage, implementation of grazing projects, irrigation, range surveys, and soil types, may be found in the records of the regional forester for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (RG 75). The BIA's grazing and range management programs were sometimes performed in cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service (RG 114); records relating to range management on public and private land in the 1930's and 1940's are also filed with SCS records. Additional records relating to range management issues, including grazing leases and permits, may be found in the records of the Forest Service (RG 95).

Geological Survey records, 1928-1972 (RG 57), include correspondence, reports, maps, and photographs of the Topographic Division, Pacific Region, which served Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Records of some 19th century western expeditions are available on microfilm. These consist of: Records of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories ('Hayden Survey'), 1867-79 (M623); Records of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel ('King Survey'), 1867-81 (M622); and Letters Received by John Wesley Powell, Director of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, 1869-79 (M156).

Maps and other records pertaining to land use are among the private Spanish Land Grant cases of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (RG 21). These case files, dated 1852 to 1910, record the cultural clash between Spanish-Mexican rancheros and Anglo-American settlers.

Records relating to Federal litigation over public lands and condemnation of private land in public domain proceedings are among the records of the U.S. District Courts (RG 21), U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in RG 276), and U.S. Attorney's offices in Honolulu, Sacramento, and San Francisco (in RG 118). In a public land case involving the Grand Canyon forest reserve, the court ruled in 1918 that the Government could restrict mining and logging on forest reserves. The Government's amended complaint asserted that the Grand Canyon "is an object of great scientific and scenic interest, and is visited by many thousands of persons each year..." One example of a condemnation case involves the War Department in Hawaii during World War II. The U.S. Attorney's case file includes maps of Honolulu Harbor, a 1942 appraisal report of growing crops, leasehold interests and improvements of the Honolulu Plantation Company, Ltd., and the company's 1941 annual report.

Some Coast and Geodetic Survey records (in RG 23) pertain to tidal work and coordination of tidal observers. These include records of the Assistant in Charge of Tidal Operations on the Pacific Coast, 1856-1877; records of the Assistant in Honolulu, 1901-1907; and a published volume, Coast Pilot of California, Oregon, and Washington, 1889.


Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture

Naval shipyard records (in RG 181) document techniques used in salvage operations and the construction, repair, and overhaul of ships and submarines. Records of the Mare Island, California, Naval Shipyard include those of the Commandant, 1854-1960; the departments of Construction and Repair, 1863-1907, and Steam Engineering, 1864-1923; and the Industrial Manager, 1940-1959. Records of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard include those of the Commandant's Office, 1903-1960; Industrial Department, 1908-1960; and Salvage Operations, 1941-1946.

Engineering drawings, 1942-1961, of standard U.S. Maritime Commission ships may be found in the records of the U.S. Customs Service (RG 36).


Medicine, Public Health, and Epidemiology

Records of the Public Health Service's Angel Island, California, Quarantine Station 1891-1948 (in RG 90), relate to actions and procedures taken to prevent epidemics. Activities of the station included alien medical inspections, quarantine of travelers and ships, and fumigation and disinfection of vessels. Among the records are letters from the Assistant Surgeon General in Washington relating to infectious diseases. A 1919 letter states that the body of a person dead of typhus fever would be allowed into the U.S. from the Philippines if it was contained in a hermetically sealed coffin. A 1920 letter discusses rat counts taken from fumigated vessels and proposes that the rat carcasses be tested for plague to identify plague infection at foreign ports.

Bureau of Indian Affairs records (RG 75) of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include the following records concerning Native Americans in Nevada and northern California: birth and death records, reports of physicians and field matrons, and records concerning hospitals, tuberculosis sanitariums, and the World War I influenza epidemic. Also included are records of certain clinics and health centers for the 1920's and 1930's.

Records of Letterman General Hospital at the Presidio of San Francisco may be found in the records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (RG 112). These include patient case files, 1898-1913, and other records relating to hospital administration and operation. The records also describe sanitary conditions at the refugee camps established in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. More recent records relating to operation of Army hospitals such as Letterman may be found in the records of U.S. Army Commands (RG 338).

Records of the Benicia (California) Arsenal post hospital, 1866-1913, are among those of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (RG 156). They consist of correspondence of the medical officer, a register of deaths and burials, and medical and sanitary reports that include information on drainage, sewage, and water systems. The report of April 1885 records one case each of chronic eczema, conjunctivitis, insanity, and simple fracture of the left tibia and fibula. In March 1887 the bathrooms in the officer's quarters were supplied with hot water. "In view of the prevalence of smallpox in San Francisco and other parts of California, 35 of the enlisted men at the post were vaccinated..." in January 1888.

Records concerning medical supplying of military installations in the Philippines, 1900-1901, may be found in the records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (RG 112).

The activities of the medical division of the World War II Office of Civilian Defense (RG 171) relate to planning for emergency medical services in the aftermath of air raids or other disasters. Among the subjects covered by records of this office are designing local emergency medical service organizations, performing incident drills, and designating and organizing emergency base hospitals.



Weather Bureau records (RG 27) include California weather summaries, 1915-1947, and correspondence and reports of the regional climatologist in San Francisco, 1962-1964. The records document weather analysis, forecast verification and terminology, overseas weather data collection and analysis, marine meteorological observations, the histories of weather stations, and station research programs. Also included is extensive technical data pertaining to instrument registration of weather conditions. Climatological records for Nevada are available on microfilm as part of Climatological Records of the Weather Bureau, 1819-1892 (T907).

A brief "meteorological record" segment is usually included in the medical reports of the Benicia (California) Arsenal post hospital, 1874-1913, which are among the records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (RG 156).

The Pacific Supervisory Office of the Weather Bureau (RG 27), based in Honolulu, oversaw substations at Eniwetok, Guam, Johnston Island, the Marshalls group, and other locations. Its records include charts, maps, photographs, monthly activity reports, meteorological observations, and special forecasts, 1939-1963. More recent records of the Weather Bureau may be found among the records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (RG 370). Records of the National Weather Service's Pacific Region office in Honolulu, 1962-1972, document weather forecasting, data collection activities, climatological programs, development of meteorological equipment, and activities at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

Reports on flood damage may be found in flood control project files of the Honolulu, Sacramento, and San Francisco Districts of the Army Corps of Engineers (RG 77). A report following the 1939 Wailoa River flood in Hilo, Hawaii, in which 19 inches of rainfall occurred in 24 hours, noted that damaging floods occurred in Hilo about once a year. Weather-related natural disasters are also the subject of reports in other Federal agency records. "Observations on Storm in Northern California, February 25-29, 1940," part of the records of the Soil Conservation Service (RG 114), provides a 16-page narrative with maps, photographs, and tabular statistics, that discusses effectiveness of flood-control dams and flood damage to crops and soil.


Petroleum and Related Research

Records of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Mines (in RG 70) include those of the Petroleum Research Program, 1916-1948, pertaining to efforts, especially during World War II, to locate new fields, increase production in existing fields, and develop methods of storage of strategic materials. Notable is wartime correspondence relating to the Elk Hills, California, Naval Reserve. There are also records of research projects, 1915-1931 and 1963-1967, concerning oil drilling, structure of oil sands, analysis of natural gas, development and use of California oil and natural gas reserves, development of shale oil reserves, heavy oil and liquid natural gas studies, and production royalties on the Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma.

Oil disputes in California pitted the Federal Government against railroad and oil companies. In Southern Pacific Company v. United States, for example, the Government accused the company of falsely obtaining patent to the Elk Hills district by representing the land as nonmineral. The appellate case file, among the records of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in RG 276), contains maps and a 3900-page transcript of the lower court's proceedings. The records of the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco (in RG 118) include case files relating to contested ownership of mineral rights in the Elk Hills Naval Reserve by private oil companies, 1905-1950. The Bureau of Land Management's San Francisco Field Division records (RG 49), 1898-1930, include a court case involving oil lands and the Southern Pacific Railroad.

California oil and gas field survey maps, 1925-1936, are available in the records of the Bureau of Land Management (RG 49).

The records of the Federal Oil Director for the Pacific Coast (in RG 67), 1918, relate to oil production, distribution and consumption, and consumer priority classifications. Included are oil company statements; oil supply tabulations; and a map of southern California oil fields, pipelines, and refineries.

Storage and allocation of fuel during World War II is documented in the records of the Office of Defense Transportation (RG 219).


Water Resources

Among the court records of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (in RG 21) are case files pertaining to the suppression of hydraulic gold mining in the late 19th century. Court records also include files for cases in which public utility water companies sought to overturn municipal rates felt to be too low; these cases include detailed information on the assets of the utilities involved. Among the cases is that of the Spring Valley Water Company of San Francisco and the Contra Costa Water Company of Oakland, California. Disputes over water rights comprise many cases heard by the U.S. District Court for Nevada; records are available from 1865 to 1963.

Records concerning the Hetch Hetchy project in Yosemite National Park, and the related application of the Raker Act by the City and County of San Francisco, may be found in the files of the Bureau of Land Management (RG 49), the National Park Service (RG 79), the U.S. Attorneys Office (RG 118), the Army Corps of Engineers (RG 77), and the Federal courts (RG 21 and RG 276.)

The Pacific Southwest Interagency River Basin Committee coordinated the activities of Federal and state agencies involved in developing water resources. The Committee's records, 1938-1972, cover such subjects as irrigation and water research, mineral exploration, pollution control, hydrology, water costs, inventories of fisheries, labor force trends, power plants, recreational facilities development, and soil conservation. Also available are records of the Columbia Basin Interagency Committee. The records may be found among those of Federal Interagency Committees and Councils Coordinating Water Use Programs (RG 315).

Records of the Army Corps of Engineers (RG 77) district offices in California and Hawaii, 1853-1973, relate to flood control, navigation, and river reclamation projects. Included are the minutes of the Board of Engineers for Improvements of the Sacramento and Feather Rivers, 1906-1916, and records of the Hoover-Young Commission on California Water Resources, 1930-1938.

Some records of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (RG 138) pertain to river basin studies, reservoir and dam projects, power surveys, and flood control projects in the Western States, 1924-1967.

Among the records of the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering (RG 8) are files concerning studies of drainage problems, irrigation methods and activities, water measurement and flow, and water use, 1889-1935.

Documentation of irrigation projects on and water rights issues of tribal lands in California and Nevada may be found in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (RG 75). For example, correspondence regarding a land exchange involving the City of Los Angeles, the U.S. Government, and the Native Americans of Owens Valley, 1937-1942, discusses water rights and installation of concrete pipe irrigation on the newly acquired Indian land at Bishop, California.

Records of the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in San Francisco, 1963-1980 (RG 412), relate to public hearings concerning local wastewater management plans and water pollution control plants. Other records of the office pertain to subjects such as Lake Tahoe water quality, pollution by watercraft, and the 1969 Santa Barbara, California, oil spill.



U.S. Customs Service Port of San Francisco records (in RG 36) include documents pertaining to the turn-of-the-century seal fur industry. U.S. Attorneys records (in RG 118) contain information concerning prosecution of violations of the Sealing Act of 1924 and alleged misconduct by judicial and customs officers in connection with the sale of seal skins, 1888-1927. These records include statistical data on sealing, reports of the fur seal catch, vessel logbooks, and transcripts of testimony. Related records may be found in the files of the Federal district courts (in RG 21) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in RG 276).

National Park Service records (RG 79) include files of the Office of the Regional Wildlife Technician, 1929-1941, and the Office of the Regional Naturalist, 1929-1953. Among the subjects covered are insect and animal damage to flora, wildlife observations and surveys in national and state parks, poaching on Federal land, complaints from the public regarding wildlife policies, rodent control at Yosemite, efforts to protect mountain lions in Washington, studies regarding the reintroduction of species into former habitats, and the 1935 reduction program for the Yellowstone elk herd.

Records of the Fish and Wildlife Service (RG 22) relate to review of proposed flood control and other projects of the Army Corps of Engineers for their effects on wildlife resources, 1946-1967. One of the more extensive files concerns waterfowl conservation in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Soil Conservation Service's records (in RG 114) of wildlife protection and preservation activities, carried out in the 1930's and 1940's, relate to such subjects as woody planting stock that would provide winter food for game birds in Nevada. Other records concern the benefits to wildlife that result from agricultural improvements. For example, bird populations increased when solidly-planted fields were replaced with soil conserving strip cropping. Part of the increase involved agriculturally useful insect-eating birds.

Removal of wild horses from Federal range is the subject of various files in the records of the Bureau of Land Management (RG 49). For example, a Winnemucca District Office file, 1940-1960, contains regulations and correspondence concerning removal activities of citizens, proposed legislation, and public opinion.


Record Groups Cited

RG 83 Agricultural Economics, Bureau of
RG 8 Agricultural Engineering, Bureau of
RG 136 Agricultural Marketing Service
RG 310 Agricultural Research Service
RG 18 Army Air Forces
RG 392 Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses, U.S., 1901-1942
RG 338 Army Commands, U.S., 1942-
RG 326 Atomic Energy Commission
RG 118 Attorneys, United States
RG171 Civilian Defense, Office of
RG 23 Coast and Geodetic Survey
RG 164 Cooperative State Research Service
RG 276 Courts of Appeals, U.S.
RG 36 Customs Service, U.S.
RG 219 Defense Transportation, Office of
RG 21 District Courts of the United States
RG 434 Energy, General Records of the Department of
RG 77 Engineers, Office of the Chief of
RG 7 Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Bureau of
RG 412 Environmental Protection Agency
RG 96 Farmers Home Administration
RG 237 Federal Aviation Administration
RG 138 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
RG 406 Federal Highway Administration
RG 22 Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.
RG 95 Forest Service
RG 67 Fuel Administration, U.S.
RG 269 General Services Administration, General Records of the
RG 57 Geological Survey, U.S.
RG 75 Indian Affairs, Bureau of
RG 315 Interagency Committees and Councils Coordinating Water Use Programs
RG 48 Interior, Office of the Secretary of the
RG 49 Land Management, Bureau of
RG 70 Mines, U.S. Bureau of
RG 104 Mint, U.S.
RG 255 National Aeronautics and Space Administration
RG 370 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
RG 79 National Park Service
RG 187 National Resources Planning Board
RG 181 Naval Districts and Shore Establishments
RG 156 Ordnance, Office of the Chief of
RG 121 Public Buildings Service
RG 90 Public Health Service
RG 30 Public Roads, Bureau of
RG 92 Quartermaster General, Office of the
RG 114 Soil Conservation Service
RG 112 Surgeon General (Army), Office of the
RG 270 War Assets Administration
RG 27 Weather Bureau

Information last updated: January 23, 1997