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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 same op ion which they before expressed."7 Consequently the Clerk submitted his resignation on January 28, 1815.8
The concern 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
n ained with the Clerk imtit congress in January 1907
SIbid., Doc. 377, p. 243.
Ibid., Doc. 378, p. 258. ?Ibid., Doc. 380, p. 263. 8Ibid., Doc. 382, p. 267. 9House Manual, 1953, p. 494 (82d Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 564). 10Vän Tyne and Leland, Guide, p. 256.
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 National 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 Congr888 in 1937 and 1938. The Third Supplemental National Defense Appropriation 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, 1946, 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:
111. lept. 917, 75th Cong., 1st sess.
Sec. 140 (a) 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 Soventy-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 82 Congressos had been deposited in the National Archives and their volume exceeded 10,000 cubic fest.
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 employé of the House of Represent-
12 House Journal, 46th Cong., 1st sess., p. 186.
The resolution further provided that copies of the records in this case could be provided "but that the originals thereof shall not be removed from the files of the House." This rule has been reiterated many times.
| The House records deposited in the National Archives are restricted. The National Archives may make available for use only those records that have heretofore been printed, unless otherwise directed by action of the House of Representatives by resolution or statute, or in writing by the Clerk. The unrestricted material amounts to a large quantity, however, and includes such diverse types of records as bills and resolutions, committee reports and hearings, House documents, and certain Territorial papers.
Before the National Archives could give adequate service on the House records, it had to place them in proper order. As they had been moved from place to place in the Capitol and the House Office Building in an effort to make room for new accumulations of records, they had become disarranged., Confusion resulted from changes in filing systems. The records that had been transferred to the Library of Congress needed to be refiled in their proper places among the other records. Examining, sorting, classifying, and properly arranging all the records was a tremendous task. For it has been estimated that there are about three million separate items--an iten being any separable and distinct paper such as a leto ter, a report, a petition, a bill, or a volume--among the records of the first 79 Congresses.
%, a petitig any sen that there
Bound volumes of House records presented one of the greatest problems. Beginning with the First Congress the House bound a greater proportion of its records than did the Senate, and for some time it bound them without regard to type or origin so that many volumes were mere heterogeneous collections. Hundreds of volumes were mislabeled and by the time they came to the National Archives many others had lost all traces of identification through deterioration. The identification and, in some cases, the complete reassembling of like materials into new volumes for rebinding and relabeling at the Government Printing Office was a slow and painstaking process. Even individual documents within volumes had to be traced through the House Journals for proper identification.
Because of the House's appreciation of the enormousness of the project the Independent Offices Appropriation Act, 1948, provided for additional personnel in the National Archives to carry it on. John Andrews, then Clerk of the House, his assistant, H. Newlin Vegill, and William Duvall and Kenneth Sprankle of the staff of the House Appropriations Committee visited the National Archives to inspect the progress of the work and to make suggestion about the way it should be done. The present Clerk of the House, Ralph R. Roberts, has shown great interest in the work also. With the help of the additional personnel and the experience gained in similar work on the Senate records, it has been possible to organize the House records more quickly and efficiently than was the case with those of the Senate.
The records described in this inventory are those of the first 79 Congresses, 1789-1946, amounting to about 9,100 cubic feet. They consist almost wholly of those pertaining to the official business of the House that were filed with the Clerk of the House or that were created by his Office. One does not, therefore, find described here the papers of the Speaker of the House or the personnel and financial records of the Clerk (with minor exceptions) and the Sergeant at Arms. Nor are the papers of individual House Members described here. In the past there was some confusion and uncertainty concerning the distinction between committee and other public records of Congress and those that pertained solely to the business of a Member's office. To clarify this situation the following provision was included in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946
All committee hearings, records, data, charts, and files shall be kept separate and distinct from the congressional office records of the Member serving as chairman of the committee; and such records shall be the property of the Congress and all members of the committee and the respective Houses shall have access to such records.
Some committees have retained for their current use records of the 79th and earlier Congressos.
In the inventory records are grouped first by Congresses and then, in accordance with the major functions of the House, under the following headings: (1) records of legislative proceedings, (2) records of impeachment proceedings, and (3) records of the Office of the Clerk. Records of legislative proceedings include minute books and journals, bills and resolutions, committee reports and papers, messages from the President, reports and communications from Government agencies, and petitions and memorials. Election records have also been filed with the legislative records for convenience, Impeachment records include petitions and letters making accusations against officeholders, and letters, reports, and other documents that could be used as bases for drafting articles of impeachment. Records of the Office of the Clerk include bill books, records of orders of the day, various kinds of registers, printing accounts, and copies of correspondence of the Clerk.
The symbols 288igned to the records in the inventory were devised by the National Archives to signify, in the order named, the Congress, one of the three major functions, and further subdivisions. This system is similar to the one used for the classification of Senate records. The records are arranged in the same order in which they are listed. When the records to which one symbol is assigned have an arrangement within themselves, that arrangement is specified.
When the records described in an entry consist entirely of bound volumes, the number of volumes is given in the entry heading. When the records consist of only unbound material or of both bound and unbound material, only the linear measurement is given.