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The House Committee on the Library’s Report on the Condition of House Records

June 01, 1937
The House Committee on the Library’s Report on the Condition of House Records Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration This image of the U.S. Capitol's attic illustrates unkempt conditions in which records of the U.S. House of Representatives were once stored.
On this date, the House Committee on the Library recommended the “Transfer of Certain Records of House of Representatives to National Archives” (H. Rpt. No. 917, 75th Cong., 1st sess.) The report contained a comprehensive survey of the conditions of the papers of the House by the National Archives, emphasizing the disorderly state of the records and their rapid deterioration. According to one article from the 1950s, Clerk of the House South Trimble opposed the transfer on the grounds that records did not have “historical interest” and that the transfer “would serve no useful purpose, would be an unnecessary expense, and would make [the records] less accessible to the House.” As a result, the records remained in three locations in the Library of Congress, eight locations in the Capitol, and one depository in the Old House Building (now Cannon) until 1946, when noncurrent House records came under the purview of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. The joint committee concluded, “It would appear that the best interests of the Government and the people of the United States would be served by the preservation of the noncurrent records of the Senate and House in one centralized place that provides the best facilities available” (S. Rpt. 1011, 79th Cong., 2nd. sess.). The committee’s deliberations were implemented in the landmark Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. Section 140 (a)-(b) of the act provided for the physical transfer to the National Archives of the records of the first 76 Congresses (7,500 cubic feet of records), as well as the continuing transfer of committee records at the close of each Congress. The House retains ownership of its records and access to them is subject to House rules.

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