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In addition to the standing committees of each House, there are spocial and joint committees. Special (or select) committees are created by resolution to consider matters that are outside the authority of standing committeos or that require extensive study. Special committees automatically cease to exist after they have completed the studies they were created to conduct. Joint committees consist of Members of both Houses. Some joint committees are standing committees and others are special. The Congressional Directory, which appears periodically, lists the special House and special joint committees, as well as the standing House and standing joint committees in each Congress.
Records of the House of Representatives were transferred from New York to Philadelphia in 1790 and from Philadelphia to Washington in 1800. The early records of the House are rather incomplete. It is possiblo that some records were lost in those moves, and others may have been lost as the result of inadequate filing space and the carelessness of early custodians.2 Still more were lost when the British burned the Capitol in 1814. A lettor written on September 15, 1814, to the Clerk of the House, Patrick Magruder, by two of his subordinates, S. Burch and J. T. Frost, explains in some detail what records were lost on that occasion. They wrote in part:3
(We were ordered not to begin packing up until it was as cor-
We immediately went to packing up, and Mr. Burch went out
-Claude H. Van Tyne and Waldo G. Leland, Guide to the Archives of the Government of the United States in Washington, p. 256 (washington, 1907).
American State Papers, Class X, Miscellaneous, Vol. II, Doc. 377, p.
and four oxen; it did not arrive at the office, until after
Every thing belonging to the office, together with the library of Congress, we venture to say, might have been removed in time, if carriages could have been procured; but it was altogether impossible to procure them, either for hire, or by force.
The most material papers which have been lost are, the last
The secret journal of Congress was also consumed; it was kept in a private drawer in the office, and in the hurry of removal was forgotten. Its contents, however, have been, in most cases, published by order of the House,
The manuscript papers, which have not been saved, were mostly of a private nature, consisting chiefly of petitions, and unimportant papers, presented previous to the year 1799.
This letter was transmitted by the Clerk to the Speaker of the House, together with the explanation that the clerk himself had been absent from the city since he had left home "the latter part of July, for the Springs, on account of indisposition."4 The committee to which this matter was referred reported that it was "constrained to express the opinion that due
4Ibid., Doç. 371, p. 245.
precaution and diligence were not exercised to prevent the destruction and loss which has been sustained."5 Although the clerk sent another letter on December 17, 1814, to the Speaker, explaining more fully the reasons for his absence from Washington, 6 the committee entertained "the game opinion which they before expressed."7 Consequently the Clerk submitted his resignation on January 28, 1815.8
The concem then expressed by the House for its records grow with the years until it came to hold them with jealous regard. In 1880 the House strengthened its control over its records with the adoption of House Rule 36, which provides that:9
The clerks of the several committees of the House shall,
Because of the periodic flow of committee records to the Clerk's custody, a staff sufficiently large to handle current business was maintained, but the problem of caring for and managing older records became increasingly acute. Walter H. French, who was the House file clerk during the latter part of the 19th century, gave considerable attention to this problem. Although he did not have adequate space or equipment to care for the records properly, he gave freely of his own time to keep the records of the House intact and orderly.
The space situation was relieved somewhat when, in accordance with an appropriation act approved on June 6, 1900, bound volumes of original House records were transferred to the Library of Congress in January 1901.10 Loose papers remained with the Clerk until 1910, when the House adopted a resolution authorizing him to deposit all original letters and papers of historical value for preservation in the Library of Congress. These papers were to remain a part of the files of the House of Representatives, subject to removal or withdrawal only by its order (H. Res. 403, 61st Cong.). The
SIbid., Doc. 377, p. 243.
Ibid., Doc. 378, p. 258.
papers selected as having historical value and being suitable for transfer were largely for the period before 1872 and amounted to about 89 cubic feet.
Another segregation of House papers occurred as the result of an act approved March 3, 1925, which authorized the Chief of the Division of Publications of the Department of State to collect, edit, copy, and prepare for publication the official papers relating to the Territories from which States had been formed. Accordingly, about 25 cubic feet of House papers that related to the Territories were withdrawn from the files and removed to the Library of Congress for easy access.
Removal of records to the Library of Congress and the efforts of House employees failed, however, to solve the space problem. Others took up the work where Mr. French had left off. William Tyler Page and South Trimble, Clerks of the House; William Hertzler, House file clerk; and H. Newlin Megill, assistant to the Clerk of the House, contributed greatly to the preservation of the records. Mr. Megill devoted much time and effort to the better organization, listing, and storage of the older House records, and, in doing so, better utilized the space available for the storage of records.
Early in 1937, T. R. Schellenberg, then a deputy examiner for the Nam tional Archives, made a comprehensive survey of the records of the House and recommended their transfer to the National Archives. Although the Senate ordered the transfer of its records that year, the House failed to tako similar action.
Some steps were taken, however, to provide better storage facilities and greater protection for the older records of the House, and additional loose papers and bound volumes of records were transferred to the Library of Congress in 1937 and 1938. The Third Supplemental National Defense Appropria tion Act, 1942, approved December 17, 1941, appropriated $25,000 to enable the Architect of the Capitol to construct a depository for records beneath the crypt in the center of the Capitol Building (55 Stat. 817). This act was amended by the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act, approved June 8, 1942, which authorized the Architect of the Capitol to erect a vault in the Annex of the Library of Congress (56 Stat. 342); and the First Deficiency Appropriation Act, 1944, approved April 1, 1944, appropriated $1,000 for the removal of documents from the Manuscripts Division and the old House Office Building, to the newly constructed vault (58 Stat. 151). The deposit of these records in the vault early in 1944 was an important step toward bringing the older records of the House together.
The next important step in the concentration of the House records was the passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 812), one section of which reads as follows:
Sec. 120 la The Secretary of the Senate and the clerk of
(b) The Clerk of the House of Representatives is authorized and directed to collect all of the noncurrent records of the House of Representatives from the First to the Seventy-sixth Congress, inclusive, and transfer such records to the National Archives for preservation, subject to the orders of the Senate or the House, respectively.
In accordance with this act the records of the House from the 18t through the 76th Congress, amounting to about 7,500 cubic feet, were transferred to the National Archives in September and October 1946. As the act was passed during the 79th Congress, it was interpreted to mean that the House was to keep in its own custody the records of two Congresses before the current Congress. Since that time, as each Congress has ended, the House has transferred to the National Archives the records of the oldest Congress in its custody. By the end of 1954 the records of 8l Congresses had been deposited in the National Archives and their volume exceeded 10,000 cubic feet.
Although the physical custody of these records is now the responsibility of the National Archives, the records are still "subject to the orders of ... the House." This control is in line with a precedent set in 1879, when Ferris Finch, then file clerk of the House, was served with a subpena to appear before a general court-martial in New York City and to produce certain testimony given before the House Committee on Military Affairs. The matter was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which on April 22, 1879, submitted a report and a resolution, the resolution providing:12
1. That no officer or employs of the House of Represent-