Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Bureau of Public Roads


(Record Group 30)
1892-1972

OVERVIEW OF RECORDS LOCATIONS

Table of Contents

  • 30.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 30.2 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF ROAD INQUIRY AND THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROAD INQUIRIES 1892-1905
  • 30.2.1 General records
  • 30.2.2 Records of the National League for Good Roads
  • 30.3 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROADS AND THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROADS AND RURAL ENGINEERING 1893-1918
  • 30.4 CONSOLIDATED RECORDS OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (1918- 39), THE PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION (1939-49), AND THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (1949-70)
    1912-67
  • 30.5 FIELD OFFICE RECORDS 1916-72
  • 30.6 RECORDS OF THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT 1941-45
  • 30.7 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL) 1949-68
  • 30.8 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL) 1920-70
  • 30.9 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL) 1896-1963

30.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Established: In the General Services Administration, July 1, 1949, by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (63 Stat. 380), June 30, 1949.

Predecessor Agencies:

In the Department of Agriculture:

  • Office of Road Inquiry (1893-99)
  • Office of Public Road Inquiries (1899-1905)
  • Office of Public Roads (1905-15)
  • Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering (1915-18)
  • Bureau of Public Roads (1918-39)

In the Federal Works Agency (FWA):

  • Public Roads Administration (PRA, 1939-49)

Transfers: To the Department of Commerce by Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1949, effective August 20, 1949; to the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation, effective April 1, 1967, by the Department of Transportation Act (80 Stat. 931), October 15, 1966.

Functions: Supervised the cooperative federal-state highway construction program. Administered the highway beautification program and the highway construction phase of the Appalachian regional development program. Constructed defense highways and roads in national parks and forests. Conducted research in transportation and highway design.

Abolished: Functions absorbed by Federal Highway Administration, August 10, 1970.

Successor Agencies: Federal Highway Administration.

Finding Aids: Truman R. Strobridge, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, PI 134 (1962); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Public Roads in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Division of Rural Engineering, Bureau of Public Roads, 1921- 31, in RG 8, Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering. General Records of the Federal Works Agency, RG 162. Records of the Federal Highway Administration, RG 406.

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30.2 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF ROAD INQUIRY AND THE OFFICE OF
PUBLIC ROAD INQUIRIES
1892-1905

History: Office of Road Inquiry established by the Secretary of Agriculture, October 3, 1893, under the Agricultural Appropriation Act (27 Stat. 737), March 3, 1893. Redesignated Office of Public Road Inquiries, 1899. Collected and disseminated information on roads management, and, beginning in 1895, tested roadbuilding materials. Combined with the Division of Tests of the Bureau of Chemistry as the Office of Public Roads, July 1, 1905, by the Agricultural Appropriation Act (33 Stat. 882), March 3, 1905.

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30.2.1 General records

Textual Records: Letters sent, 1893-1904. Letters sent by E.G. Harrison, special agent and road expert, 1900. Letters and form letters sent by the Division of Laboratory Tests and Investigations, 1901-5. Letters sent concerning the American Society for Testing Materials, 1904-5.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Office of Road Inquiry and the Office of Public Road Inquiries in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

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30.2.2 Records of the National League for Good Roads

History: Roy Stone, first head of the Office of Road Inquiry, 1893, organized the National League for Good Roads in October 1892 to consolidate local and state activities in the "Good Roads Movement."

Textual Records: Letters sent, 1892-93.

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30.3 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROADS AND THE OFFICE OF
PUBLIC ROADS AND RURAL ENGINEERING
1893-1918

History: Office of Public Roads established July 1, 1905, by merger of Office of Public Road Inquiries and Division of Tests, Bureau of Chemistry, pursuant to the Agricultural Appropriation Act (33 Stat. 882), March 3, 1905. Consolidated with Drainage and Irrigation Divisions of the Office of Experiment Stations, acquiring also farm architectural functions of the Rural Engineering Investigations Division of the Office of Farm Management, to form Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering, by the Agricultural Appropriation Act (38 Stat. 1111), March 4, 1915. Began to administer a systematic program of federally funded highway construction under the Federal-Aid Road Act (39 Stat. 355), July 11, 1916. Redesignated Bureau of Public Roads, retroactive to July 1, 1918, by the Agricultural Appropriation Act (40 Stat. 1000), October 1, 1918.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1893-1916, with an index. Letters sent concerning the American Society for Testing Materials, 1908-12. Letters sent by Assistant Director Allerton S. Cushman, 1906-8. Certificates appointing private citizens as volunteer "public roads correspondents," 1905-9, with related correspondence, 1908-10. Reports regarding the economic effects of road improvements, 1910-18; town and county road management, 1914-15; and state management of highways, 1915-18. Certificates of appointment as employees of the Office of Public Roads, 1905- 11.

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30.4 CONSOLIDATED RECORDS OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (1918- 39), THE PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION (1939-49), AND THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (1949-70)
1912-69

History: Bureau of Public Roads, established effective July 1, 1918, by redesignation of Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering, transferred to FWA by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939, and redesignated Public Roads Administration. With entire FWA, PRA abolished by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, June 30, 1949, with functions transferred to the General Services Administration, established by same act, and vested in Bureau of Public Roads. SEE 30.1.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1912-65 (2,795 ft.), with indexes, 1912-55 (375 ft.). Foreign operations correspondence, 1939-55. Congressional correspondence, 1951-52. General administrative and operational records, 1917-58. Press releases, 1930-67. Reports concerning highway construction financing, international projects, the Interstate Highway System, road maintenance, and motor vehicle usage, 1927-57. Office files of deputy commissioner Harold Hilts, 1933-53. Office files of the chief engineer, Capt. Philip St. John Wilson, 1916-34. Records relating to the Highway Planning Survey program including memorandums, issuances, speeches and papers, and fiscal studies related to various state highways, 1932-44. Records relating to the National Defense Highway Program and National Highway Program, 1940-55. Records relating to the Federal-aid Highway Program including progress reports and meeting minutes, 1946-59. Records relating to state highway programs, including construction of toll roads and bridges, and allocation of federal-aid highway funds, 1917-57. Reports regarding the Virgin Islands' Highway Program, 1944-52. Records concerning special activities, 1937-65. Highway reports, studies, and planning surveys, 1932-67. Memorandums received by the Division of Engineering, 1946-51. General records of the Office of Equal Opportunity, 1963-69.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Public Roads (1918-39) and the Public Roads Administration in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

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30.5 FIELD OFFICE RECORDS
1916-72

Textual Records: Records, principally federal highway aid project files, of the following regional, division, and district offices of the Bureau of Public Roads and its predecessors:

Juneau, AK, Division Office, 1957-69, and predecessor Alaska Road Commission, Department of the Interior, 1916-56 (in Anchorage).

Atlanta, GA, Regional and Division Office, 1917-70; Columbia, SC, Division Office, 1961-63, 1969; Jackson, MS, Division Office, 1921-68; Montgomery, AL, Division Office, 1963-68; Nashville, TN, Division Office, 1942-69; Raleigh, NC, Division Office, 1927-70; and Tallahassee, FL, Division Office, 1959, 1962-67, 1970 (in Atlanta).

Augusta, ME, District Office, 1918-69; Boston, MA, District Office, 1917-60; Concord, NH, District Office, 1917-70; Hartford, CT, District Office, 1922-70; Montpelier, VT, District Office, 1917-70; and Providence, RI, District Office, 1917-70 (in Boston).

Columbus, OH, District Office, 1956-64; Frankfort, KY, District Office, 1920-60, 1962-66; Indianapolis, IN, District Office, 1951-65, 1967; Lansing, MI, District Office, 1946-60, 1962-69; Madison, WI, District Office, 1927-60, 1962-67; and Springfield, IL, District Office, 1918-68 (in Chicago).

Cheyenne, WY, Division Office, 1962; Denver, CO, Division Office, 1965; Helena, MT, Division Office, 1930-55; Missoula, MT, Division Office, 1928-55; Phoenix, AZ, District Office, 1961-65; and Phoenix, AZ, Division Office, 1965; and Santa Fe, NM, District Office, 1920-71 (in Denver).

Austin, TX, District Office, 1920-66; Baton Rouge, LA, District Office, 1916-68; Little Rock, AR, District Office, 1919-68; and Oklahoma City, OK, District Office, 1941-50 (in Fort Worth).

Ames, IA, District Office, 1920-63, 1968-69; Bismarck, ND, District Office, 1918-69; Jefferson City, MO, District Office, 1918-71; Lincoln, NE, District Office, 1918-59, 1967-70; Pierre, SD, District Office, 1918-67; St. Paul, MN, District Office, 1918-71; and Topeka, KS, District Office, 1918-71 (in Kansas City).

Dover, DE, District Office, 1967, 1970; Harrisburg, PA, District Office, 1934-66; Richmond, VA, District Office, 1957-60; and Trenton, NJ, District Office, 1957-70 (in Philadelphia).

Phoenix, AZ, Division Office, 1917-60 (in Los Angeles).

Albany, NY, District Office, 1960-67 (in New York).

Carson City, NV, Division Office, 1958-69; Honolulu, HI, Division Office, 1925-68; Sacramento, CA, Division Office, 1945-69; and San Francisco, CA, Regional Office, 1920-65 (in San Francisco).

Boise, ID, Division Office, 1936-58, 1960-68; Olympia, WA, Division Office, 1919-52, 1967-68; Portland, OR, Regional Office, 1919-55; and Salem, OR, Division Office, 1919-69 (in Seattle).

Maps (13,942 items): Right-of-way maps associated with federal highway projects of the Atlanta, GA, Division Office, 1940-67 (1,530 items, in Atlanta); Augusta, ME, District Office, 1950-67 (654 items, in Boston); Cheyenne, WY, Division Office, 1961-70 (230 items, in Denver); Columbia, SC, Division Office, 1960-63 (897 items, in Atlanta); Harrisburg, PA, District Office, 1969-72 (5,245 items, in Philadelphia); Lansing, MI, District Office, 1960-65 (984 items, in Chicago); Montgomery, AL, Division Office, 1952-68 (3,695 items, in Atlanta); Oklahoma City, OK, District Office, 1955-64 (462 items, in Fort Worth); St. Paul, MN, District Office, 1959-64 (88 items, in Kansas City); Pierre, SD, District Office, 1918-65 (7 items, in Kansas City); and Tallahassee, FL, Division Office, 1961-62 (150 items, in Atlanta). SEE ALSO 30.8.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (574 items): Associated with federal highway projects of Bismarck, ND, District Office, 1918- 65 (9 items, in Kansas City); Jefferson City, MO, District Office, 1918-59 (509 items, in Kansas City); Pierre, SD, District Office, 1960-64 (28 items, in Kansas City); and San Francisco, CA, District Office, 1950-60 (28 items, in San Francisco). SEE ALSO 30.8.

Photographs (70,008 images): Damaged roads and highways, Georgia Division, 1940-48 (8 images, in Atlanta). Regional highway construction and maintenance activities for CO, WY, NM, UT, SD, and TX, 1919-71 (60,000 images, in Denver). Colorado Division road construction and maintenance activities, 1945-68 (10,000 images, in Denver). SEE ALSO 30.9.

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30.6 RECORDS OF THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO THE WAR
DEPARTMENT 1941-45

History: Organized, November 1940, to provide advice on highway transport matters and to ensure state compliance in meeting the essential highway needs of the War Department.

Textual Records: Correspondence and other records, 1941-45.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Highway Traffic Advisory Committee to the War Department in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

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30.7 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL) 1949-68

Public information and documentary films illustrating road and bridge construction, and transportation technologies (1920-68), 1949-68 (85 reels).

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30.8 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
1896-1970

Maps: Published and annotated highway and traffic maps compiled and maintained by the bureau's central office and related to the federally aided system of interstate and defense highways, including the Inter-American Highway, the Mississippi Valley Parkway, and the Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, 1920-65 (4,485 items). Published county and state roadmaps prepared by state highway departments following the bureau's standard specifications, 1920-70 (53,654 items). Negatives of maps illustrating the evolution of transportation, highways and methods of construction, 1896-1953 (1,600 items). Right-of-way maps for the Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, 1929-31 (321 items).

Aerial Photogaphs (4,900 items): Negatives and annotated prints resulting from highway projects that made use of aerial surveys, including the Alaska Highway, the Mississippi River Parkway, the Inter-American Highway, and forest highways in several states, 1936-59.

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Negatives of drawings concerning bridge construction and the Abingdon Research Station, 1896-1953 (400 items).

SEE Maps UNDER 30.5.
SEE Architectural and Engineering Plans UNDER 30.5.

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30.9 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)
1896-1963

Photographs: Illustrating the evolution of transportation, highways and methods of construction, and the construction of Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, the Alaska Highway, and other parkways and expressways, 1896-1963, and including photographs of some artworks dating to 312 B.C. (N).

Color Photographs (29 images): Diorama exhibiting the history since 1539 of trails, roads, and highways in the United States, 1939 (HOH).

Photographic Prints (98 images): Aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, in album (HH).

Lantern Slides (2,451 images): Road construction, road repair techniques and equipment, and scenic views, n.d. (R).

SEE Photographs UNDER 30.5.

Finding Aids: Susan Kay Parker and Sadie S. Mittman, comps., "Selected List of Titles in the Bureau of Public Roads Highway Transport File (Prints)," NC 137 (Dec. 1965).


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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