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Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989 (Record Group 233)



Chapter 20. Records of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and Its Predecessors



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Records of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and Its Predecessors from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988


Committee records described in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation, 1924-46

History and Jurisdiction

20.3 This committee was established on January 18, 1924, with jurisdiction over matters relating to the following subjects:

    war-risk insurance of soldiers, sailors, and marines, and other persons in the military and naval service of the United States during or growing out of the World War, the United States Veterans' Bureau, the compensations and allowances of such persons and their beneficiaries, and all legislation affecting them other than civil service, public lands, adjusted compensations, pensions, and private claims.1

20.4 On January 24, 1944, the jurisdiction of the committee was enlarged so as to include the veterans of World War II. Two years later the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 abolished the committee and incorporated its jurisdiction into that of the new Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Records of the Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation, 68th-79th Congresses (1924-1946)

 

Record TypeVolumeCongress (dates)
Minutes1 in.78th (1944)
Petitions & Memorials44 ft.68th-69th (1923-27), 71st-79th (1929-46)
Committee Papers17 ft.68th-69th (1923-27), 73d-79th (1933-46)
Bill Files4 ft.68th-72nd (1903-09), 77th-79th (1911-27)
TOTAL:65 ft. 

20.5 The minutes document only the executive session meetings in April and May of 1944 on S. 1767, the veterans "GI Bill of Rights." There are no minute or docket books that document the activities of the full committee.

20.6 Few petitions and memorials were referred to the committee. One petition drive accounts for over 95 percent of the petitions received by the committee during its 22-year history. During the 78th Congress (1943-44) a massive petition drive urged Congress to pass H.R. 3917, a bill to establish a GI bill of rights to provide Federal aid for the readjustment of World War II veterans to civilian life and S. 1617, its Senate counterpart (78A-H21.5, 42 ft.). Demands for amendments to the resulting legislation account for a far less voluminous but still substantial number of petitions among the records of the 79th Congress (79A-H22.2, 4 in.).

20.7 Petitions for the construction of hospitals and domiciliary facilities for veterans appear in the records of every Congress. The citizens and legislatures of various States appealed to Congress to build these institutions in their States. Typical of these petitions are a concurrent resolution from the State legislature of Indiana requesting appropriations for a hospital in that State (69A-H19.1) and a resolution passed by the State Senate of Michigan asking that a hospital be constructed in Wayne County (68A-H22.1). Some 10 years later, organizations in Michigan were still petitioning for a hospital to be built near Detroit, in Wayne County, to enable Michigan veterans to be hospitalized in their home State (74A-H21.1).

20.8 Depression era legislation intended to balance the budget through various economies including reductions in the pensions and other benefits due veterans, was the concern of numerous petitioners. During the 72d Congress (1931-33) the committee files contain petitions begging that veterans' benefits not be reduced and that legislation pertaining to veterans of the Spanish American War not be repealed, and others protesting the National Economy League's proposals to reduce veterans' hospitalization and other benefits (72A-H17.1). After passage of the Economy Act of March 20, 1933, the files of the 73d Congress (1933-34) contain petitions demanding restoration of the veterans' benefits that had been reduced under the legislation (73A-H22.3, 73A-H22.4).

20.9 Other subjects of petitions and memorials included passage of a bill to provide for the retirement of disabled emergency officers in the Army during World War I (68A-H22.1), amendments to the war risk insurance legislation (71A-H19.1, 74A-H21.3), payment of adjusted compensation (73A-H22.2), Federal provision of artificial limbs to veterans (75A-H20.3), Government protection and compensation for the widows and children of deceased veterans (76A-H27.3), rehabilitation of veterans (78A-21.4), automobiles for amputees (79A-H22.1), and criticism of the operation of the Veterans Administration (79A-H22.5).

20.10 Committee papers between 1924 and 1941 comprise less than 1 foot of printed copies of bills, resolutions, hearings, and committee prints. Beginning with the 77th Congress, however, the activities of the committee are documented much more completely. In addition to the types of printed documents listed above, the committee papers files include the correspondence of the committee.

20.11 There are two correspondence files for each Congress between the 77th and the 79th: a general correspondence file that is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent, and a subject correspondence file that is arranged alphabetically by subject. The general correspondence files for the three Congresses total 9 linear feet and the three subject files total less than 5 feet.

20.12 The committee papers for the 77th and 78th Congresses contain special correspondence files for the Veterans Administration (VA) which include drafts of proposed legislation. Much of the correspondence between the committee and the VA is documented in committee prints which the committee issued in large numbers during each Congress. The records of this committee contain as many as 400 committee prints from each Congress, most of which are copies of correspondence between the committee and the Veterans Administration or the large veterans organizations.

20.13 Among the 77th and 78th Congress records are also documents from the American Legion including its annual reports and financial statements, and from the American Veterans' Association (77A-F39.1, 77A-F39.2, 78A-F39.3).

20.14 The records that are filed under the heading "bill files" consist primarily of copies of printed bills or resolutions and the related reports and hearings.

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Notes

1 U.S. Congress, House, Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States, Seventy-Eighth Congress, H. Doc. 812, 77th Cong., 2d sess., 1943, p. 325.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.
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