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Guide to the Records of the U.S. Senate at the National Archives (Record Group 46)


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Chapter 10. Records of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 1816-1988


Records of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 1816-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States


Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Committee on Foreign Relations: Other Records, 1947-68 (80th-90th Congresses)

10.44 Records of the Foreign Relations Committee after 1946 reflect changes wrought on all committees after the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (Public Law 79-601). For the first time, the committee had a small professional staff, directed by Francis O. Wilcox, to advise its members. In the postwar world, the committee's jurisdiction expanded to meet the requirements of the dominant role of the United States in world affairs and of the growing interest in international issues, such as nuclear weapons and disarmament, trade, international energy and investment, international organizations, security agreements, foreign aid, and world environment.

10.45 A comparison between the relevant parts of Senate Rule XXV, which defines the jurisdiction of each committee, in 1947 and in 1982 underscores the growth of the committee's responsibilities since the end of World War II. In 1947, subjects under the committee's jurisdiction included relations of the United States with foreign nations generally, treaties, establishment of boundary lines between the United States and foreign nations, protection of U.S. citizens abroad and expatriation, neutrality, international conferences and congresses, the American Red Cross, intervention abroad and declarations of war, measures relating to diplomatic service, acquisition of land and buildings for embassies and legations in foreign countries, measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard U.S. business interests abroad, the United Nations and international financial and monetary organizations, and foreign loans.

10.46 Between 1947 and 1982, the concept of U.S. neutrality became obsolete and was dropped, but other areas of responsibility were added, including foreign economic, military, technical, and humanitarian assistance; international aspects of nuclear energy, including nuclear transfer policy; international law as it relates to foreign policy; oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs as they relate to foreign policy; the International Committee of the Red Cross, rather than only the American Red Cross; and the national security and international aspects of trusteeships of the United States. Since 1973, the committee has had responsibility to monitor many executive agreements between the United States and foreign governments that are often used instead of formal treaties.

10.47 The role of the committee has expanded in other respects as well, especially in oversight of executive agencies and foreign policy. Rule XXV now specifies that the committee shall make comprehensive studies of "national security policy, foreign policy, and international economic policy as it relates to the foreign policy of the United States, and matters relating to food, hunger, and nutrition in foreign countries. . . ." The committee's jurisdiction extends over the annual authorization bills for and programs of all foreign relations agencies except the Central Intelligence Agency. Since 1968, committee oversight of executive agreements with foreign governments and the commitment of U.S. armed forces to a potential combat situation has been extended by the Case Act (Public Law 92-403) and the War Powers Resolutions (Public Law 93-148), respectively.

10.48 The records of the Committee on Foreign Relations and its subcommittees from 1947 to 1968 include records of the chairmen, committee members, and staff. They document the evolution of the foreign policy roles of the Senate since World War II, the legislative history of bills referred to it, and committee deliberations on treaties and other foreign policy matters. The records include legislative case files on bills and resolutions, executive communications, Presidential messages, and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of state legislatures referred to the committee; records of investigative and other subcommittees; unpublished public hearing and executive session transcripts; and subject and correspondence files. There are also records of executive proceedings of the Senate relating to treaties and of nominations of ambassadors and other high-level executive appointments to positions in foreign relations agencies submitted to it for advice and consent. Although not Senate records, copies of oral history interview transcripts with key committee staff members Francis O. Wilcox, Carl Marcy, Pat Holt, and Darrell St. Claire are on deposit in the National Archives. These provide insights into the history of the committee and contain observations about committee members.

10.49 While this page describes Senate records through 1968, it must be noted that the Committee on Foreign Relations has opened for research, subject to certain conditions, all treaty files, unclassified executive communications, petitions and memorials, and legislative case files that have been transferred to the National Archives. Unpublished public hearing transcripts are usually available at the National Archives when 2 years old. Public access to executive session transcripts and other executive records less than 12 years old is regulated by the committee's rule 12, providing that requests may be made directly to the committee. Several series also include documents that have been security-classified by the agency of origin and as such must undergo declassification review before release. Questions relating to access to such records may be referred to the clerk of the committee or the Records Declassification Division of the National Archives.

Records of the Full Committee

10.50 Beginning with the 80th Congress, legislative case files on bills and resolutions referred to the committee ("accompanying papers"), 1947-68 (103 ft.), are maintained as separate series of committee records. They are arranged by Congress, by type of bill or resolution, and thereunder numerically. Each case file contains at least one copy of the proposed Senate bill or resolution or approved House bill or House joint or concurrent resolutions, a copy of the printed report on it, and, if enacted, a copy of the slip law. Bills and resolutions not originating in the executive branch are routinely referred to the appropriate Department or agency for comment, and these comments, in addition to correspondence from other interested parties, may be included. Many files also contain staff memorandums analyzing provisions of the bill; summarizing hearings, meetings, and telephone conversations; and proposing amendments or other changes to the bill. Other records include conference committee prints and reports, hearing transcripts or printed hearings, copies of formal statements presented at hearings, and reference and other printed or near-print material. A recent change in committee policy has opened all of its legislative case files when they are transferred to the National Archives, and therefore such records from the 1980's are open.

10.51 Presidential messages and executive communications ("messages, communications, and reports"), 1947-68 (26 ft.), are filed separately and chronologically for each Congress for the 1947-50 period. From 1951 to 1968, the records are filed together and arranged by committee calendar docket number. Both Presidential messages and executive communications are formal communications from the executive branch. Presidential messages to the committee include President Harry S. Truman's European Relief Program in the 80th Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower's message of July 15, 1958, announcing the landing of Marines in Lebanon. They also transmit statutorily mandated reports. Executive communications are from Secretaries of Departments, heads of agencies, or their designees and include, since 1973, copies of international agreements transmitted to the Senate under the provisions of the Case Act. Some are security-classified. Both types of documents may be accompanied by correspondence and related printed material. An unpublished shelf list describing this series for the 80th-90th Congresses is available at the National Archives. Unclassified executive communications after the 90th Congress are also open to researchers.

10.52 Petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures and other bodies referred to the committee, 1946-68 (4 ft.), include special files that have been created for petitions supporting the transformation of the United Nations into a world federal government, 1949-51, and memorials concerning the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, 1968. Records after the 90th Congress are also open to researchers.

10.53 Executive session transcripts and minutes, January 8, 1947-September 5, 1979 (34 ft.), document confidential activities of the committee, including business meetings and briefings considered at the time to be too sensitive for public disclosure. Many pre-1964 transcripts have been published in full or part in Executive Sessions of the Foreign Relations Committee (Historical Series). The records consist principally of original transcripts that were published in the historical series and unpublished transcripts. Also included are some transcripts after 1961 that remain classified and others, up to 1979, that have been partially or fully declassified by the committee. Included is the original, unsanitized hearing transcript of the combined Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the military situation in the Far East, April 30-August 17, 1951. Press conference transcripts are occasionally filed with the related executive session transcript or minute, as are other papers, such as committee votes and attendance records.

10.54 Miscellaneous hearing transcripts, 1954-62 (7 ft.), are arranged by subject for the 83d-84th Congresses and chronologically for the 85th-87th Congresses. Many of the transcripts in this incomplete set have been printed.

10.55 Unprinted public hearing transcripts, 1963-68 (26 ft.), are arranged chronologically. Their subjects include nominations, legislation, treaties and conventions, oversight activities, and other committee and subcommittee business. Some press conferences are also included. Post-1968 transcripts are also available. Before 1963, transcripts are sometimes found in nomination case files, treaty files, or legislative case files as appropriate, and a few may be found among the miscellaneous hearings transcripts, 1954-62.

10.56A subject file, 1947-62 (21 ft.), is arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by subject. For some Congresses, there are two separate subject files. The subject files include correspondence, staff memorandums, draft reports, administrative records (1949-56 only), and various printed matter and reference material. Among the more extensively documented subjects are the legislative history of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, including records of markups and conferences, and of the political and military situation in Vietnam in the late 1950's. The files also contain correspondence of the chairmen. For example, Thomas T. Connally (1949-53) received much public comment, particularly from his Texas constituents, following his criticism of Chiang Kai-shek. An unpublished shelf list of these records for the 80th-90th Congress is available at the National Archives.

10.57 The general correspondence, 1949-64 (9 ft.), arranged by Congress and thereunder by name of correspondent, consists mostly of the correspondence with members of the public rather than with officials. There are no records for the 86th Congress, and records for the 87th-88th Congresses consist almost entirely of correspondence of Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota or his legislative assistant concerning his efforts to establish an arms control agency and his support for the nuclear test ban. Some of this correspondence dates from 1957 and is similar to records of the Subcommittee on Disarmament.

10.58 Reference files relating to committee members, 1955-68 (5 ft.), arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by name of Senator, include copies of correspondence, staff memorandums, clippings from the Congressional Record, and copies of speeches if prepared by committee staff. The files are not comprehensive, and for some members no files were maintained. The shelf list applies to these records.

10.59 Administrative and financial records, 1957-64 (8 ft.), include personnel files on staff, office expenses and travel vouchers, administrative correspondence, and agendas for committee meetings. Similar records for the 1949-56 period are interfiled among the subject files. The shelf list for the 80th-90th Congresses also applies to these records.

10.60 Classified records relating to foreign aid, 1951-63 (3 ft.), include security-classified executive communications and reports from executive agencies concerning the implementation of several foreign assistance acts--such as the Mutual Security Act of 1951 and the Battle Act of 1951 (which banned foreign aid to any nation sending arms, military equipment, or other strategic material to the Soviet Union or Soviet-dominated areas)--and foreign aid authorization and appropriation bills through 1963. Also included are security-classified documents submitted to the committee as background data at hearings.

10.61 Nomination case files, 1947-68 (20 ft.), are arranged in three categories: Major appointments, appointments to advisory committees and international organizations, and routine promotion lists for the Foreign Service. In addition to biographical data, the files for the first two categories may contain correspondence, a hearing transcript, clippings, security clearances, and staff memorandums; of the two categories, the major appointments are more fully documented. Routine promotions constitute 90 percent of foreign relations nominations but contain minimal information on the nominees. Nomination files are closed for 50 years under authority of S. Res. 474, 96th Cong., although transcripts of public hearings on the nominations are available. For further information, see the committee print The Senate Role in Foreign Affairs Appointments (revised, 1982).

10.62 Treaty files are part of the series Presidential messages--foreign relations and "records relating to treaties with foreign countries". There are 36 feet of records concerning treaties that were either approved, disapproved, or returned to the President between 1947 and 1968. Treaty files are not closed until the treaty has been disposed of, and because some treaties await approval for many Congresses, locating certain treaty files can be difficult. For example, several treaties signed in the 1920's and 1930's were not closed out until the 80th Congress (1947), when President Truman agreed to a request by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Arthur Vandenberg to withdraw them. All treaty files that have been transferred to the National Archives are open to research.

Records of Subcommittees

10.63 From 1950 to 1975 the Committee on Foreign Relations maintained a number of "consultative" subcommittees that more or less corresponded to the organization of the Department of State. Even though they are no longer termed "consultative," the same basic subcommittee structure remains. The committee also uses investigative or oversight subcommittees for major undertakings requiring more staff and funds than are available under its regular budget. Ad hoc subcommittees dealing with single issues or a number of closely related ones, such as double taxation conventions and certain international organization matters, are established infrequently.

10.64 Most of the foreign relations subcommittees for which the National Archives has records are investigative; however, records of the consultative and ad hoc subcommittees may also appear in records of the full committee.

Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees ("Tydings Subcommittee")

10.65 The subcommittee was authorized by S. Res. 231, 81st Cong. (1950), to look into charges by Joseph R. McCarthy that he had a list of 205 names of individuals known by the Secretary of State to be members of the Communist Party who were still working in the State Department. Millard E. Tydings chaired the subcommittee. The records, February-July 1950 (5 ft.), consist of administrative records, staff memorandums and hearing exhibits, general subject files, and files on individuals involved in the investigation. A folder title list accompanies the records.

Subcommittee on U.S. Foreign Aid to Free Europe ("Green Subcommittee")

10.66 The subcommittee was established in response to President Truman's message of May 24, 1951, proposing establishment of a "mutual security program." The full committee sent Theodore Francis Green and eight colleagues to survey U.S. foreign aid programs in Europe, where they consulted with foreign and U.S. military and diplomatic officials. The records, 1951 (1 ft.), consist almost entirely of original transcripts of the hearings and briefings held in Europe in July 1951.

Subcommittee on Overseas Information Programs

10.67 The subcommittee investigated existing U.S. foreign information programs such as the United States Information Service (USIS) and the Voice of America. Proposed by Senators William Benton and Alexander Wiley in S. Res. 74 and approved over a year later, the subcommittee was chaired by J. William Fulbright in 1952, followed by Bourke Hickenlooper in January 1953. By the time its final report was issued, President Eisenhower had implemented Reorganization Plan No. 8, which created the United States Information Agency. The records, June 1952-July 1953 (4 ft.), include correspondence, transcripts of public and executive hearings, copies of locally produced USIS publications and summary information on various USIS field units, reference material, and administrative records.

Subcommittee on Disarmament

10.68 When the Senate approved Hubert Humphrey's resolution, S. Res. 93, 84th Cong., to study proposals on disarmament and control of weapons of mass destruction, it established the Subcommittee on Disarmament, chaired by Senator Humphrey. During the next several years, the staff produced at least 17 studies on disarmament and arms control. Its correspondence ("Sen. Humphrey's file"), 1956-61 (10 ft.), reflects public attitudes toward Humphrey's disarmament activities. Correspondents include representatives of disarmament and peace organizations as well as church and diplomatic representatives. The general correspondence of the full committee, 1949-64 contains additional Humphrey correspondence on this subject. The project records, 1960-62 (6 ft.), relate to a study entitled "Economic Impact of Arms Control Agreements," which was completed in 1962. The study is based on 2 questionnaires sent to 439 defense contractors, and the results were published as a confidential committee print.

Subcommittee to Investigate Activities of Nondiplomatic Representatives of Foreign Principals in the United States

10.69 The subcommittee was established pursuant to S. Res. 362, 87th Cong., following investigation of extensive lobbying against President John F. Kennedy's 1962 sugar bill (H.R. 11730) that, in turn, uncovered irregularities in the statements of registered lobbyists filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938. The object of the investigation was to determine to what extent foreign governments tried to influence U.S. Government policy outside normal diplomatic channels. The records, 1950-62 (27 ft.), including 43 rolls of microfilm, consist largely of investigative case files on major lobbyists or lobbying organizations and include correspondence and business records. The microfilm is not labeled clearly but appears to be of Department of Justice FARA files and records of investigated companies, for which there are paper copies in subcommittee records. A box list accompanies the records.

Subcommittee on American Republics

10.70 The subcommittee, chaired by Wayne Morse of Oregon, made a study of the Alliance for Progress undertaken during the 90th Congress. The records, 1967-68 (5 in.), include correspondence, reports, copies of State Department documents, staff memorandums, and reference material.

Records of the Chairman

10.71 While the records of the committee are also invariably the records of its chairman, there are separate series of records identified as records of two specific chairmen.

10.72 The records of Thomas T. (Tom) Connally, 1947-53 (1 ft.), are not strictly the chairman's files. They are an accumulation of mainly security-classified correspondence and reports relating to Connally's trip to Western Europe in the summer of 1952 to inspect mutual security installations and other interests of the committee. Connally was chairman from 1943 to 1946 and from 1949 to 1953.

10.73 The records of J. William Fulbright, 1958-74 (3 ft.), include chronological correspondence files, speeches and statements, and miscellaneous subject files. The correspondence includes a transcript of remarks at an informal meeting between Fulbright and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Capitol on September 16, 1959. Fulbright chaired the Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1973.

Records of the Staff

10.74 Carl Marcy served as a staff consultant to the committee from 1950 to 1955, when he became chief of staff, a position held continuously until his retirement in December 1973. The records of Carl Marcy, 1953-73 (5 ft.), include copies of outgoing letters, memorandums, draft speeches and statements for the periods January-June 1953 and January 1957-December 1973, and correspondence relating to his work with the Special Committee to Study Foreign Aid Programs, 1956. Augmenting these records, the National Archives has a transcript of an oral history interview with Marcy, prepared by the Senate Historical Office.

10.75 Mary Ann Sames served the Foreign Relation Committee from 1956 to 1965, first as a clerical employee and later as a professional staff member. She also worked for the Democratic Policy Committee under Mike Mansfield from 1965 to 1969. The records of Mary Ann Sames, c. 1960-68 (4 ft.), represent working files accumulated during her employment by both committees. Files relating to foreign affairs are arranged by subject and include staff memorandums and other unpublished documentation. Among the subjects best documented are the Chamizal Treaty with Mexico, 1963, and an attempt in the early 1960's to repeal the Connally Amendment (S. Res. 196, 79th Cong.) affecting certain pending conventions and protocols.

10.76 Although not records of the staff, a valuable resource on the history of the committee from the staff's perspective is the collection of oral history interview transcripts prepared by the Senate Historical Office. In addition to those already noted, former staff director Pat Holt and former committee clerk Darrell St. Claire have been interviewed. Transcripts of all interviews are on deposit with the National Archives.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42). By Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.
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