Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Bureau of Accounts (Treasury)


(Record Group 39)
1775-1973 (bulk 1789-1948)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 39.1 Administrative History
  • 39.2 General Records 1775-1973
    • 39.2.1 Records relating to government agencies
    • 39.2.2 Records of the Pension Fund
    • 39.2.3 Other records
  • 39.3 Records Relating to Disbursements 1865-1935, 1959-65
  • 39.4 Records Relating to Alien Property 1898-1939
  • 39.5 Records Relating to Depositories of Public Moneys 1832-1920
  • 39.6 Records Relating to Special Accounts 1879-1941
  • 39.7 Records Relating to Surety Bonds 1789-1925
  • 39.8 Records Relating to Federal Savings and Loan Associations 1933-48
  • 39.9 Motion Pictures (General) 1940

39.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Department of the Treasury under Reorganization Plan No. III of 1940, effective June 30, 1940.

Predecessor Agencies:
  • Continental Congress (1774-81)
  • Confederation Congress (1781-89)
In the Treasury Department:
  • Office of the Secretary (1789-1868)
  • Division of Warrants (1868-74)
  • Division of Warrants, Estimates, and Appropriations (1874-94)
  • Division of Bookkeeping and Warrants (1894-1920)
  • Office of the Commissioner of Accounts and Deposits (OCAD, 1920- 40)
  • Division of Receipts and Expenditures, Register's Office (1854/55-94, to Division of Bookkeeping and Warrants)
  • Division of Public Moneys (1877-1921, to OCAD)
  • Office of the Disbursing Clerk (1910-33, to Division of Disbursement, OCAD)
  • Surety Bonds Section, Division of Appointments (1895-1911)
  • Surety Bonds Section, Office of the Secretary (1911-21)
  • Surety Bonds Section, Division of Appointments (1921-31, to OCAD)
In the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice:
  • Surety Bonds Section (1894-1910, to Office of the Secretary of the Treasury)

Functions: Maintained a unified system of central accounts and produced central financial reports. Disbursed Executive branch funds. Paid claims under international agreements. Collected foreign government debts owed to the United States. Administered Treasury loans to federal corporations and agencies. Administered the federal depository systems. Supervised surety companies authorized as sureties on federal bonds. Provided technical assistance to Treasury bureaus. Developed plans for improving government accounting procedures.

Abolished: By Treasury Order 229, January 14, 1974.

Successor Agencies: Bureau of Government Financial Operations (1974-84); Financial Management Service (1984- ).

Finding Aids: Donald L. King, comp., and William F. Sherman, rev., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Accounts (Treasury)," NC 23 (Aug. 1963).

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Accounts (Treasury) in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the Treasurer of the United States, RG 50.
Records of the Bureau of the Public Debt, RG 53.
General Records of the Department of the Treasury, RG 56.
Records of the Office of Alien Property, RG 131.
Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, RG 217.

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39.2 General Records
1775-1973

History: Responsibilities ultimately centralized in the Bureau of Accounts were acquired by the Treasury Department when it was established by act of September 2, 1789 (1 Stat. 65), many representing accounting functions of the predecessor Continental and Confederation Congresses, 1774-89. Centralization process began with Division of Warrants, established 1868, and redesignated the Division of Warrants, Estimates, and Appropriations, 1874. Superseded by Division of Bookkeeping and Warrants, established by the Dockery Act (28 Stat. 208), July 31, 1894, which transferred the functions and records relating to the receipt and expenditure of public funds from the Division of Receipts and Expenditures, Register's Office. Division of Bookkeeping and Warrants placed under the OCAD, established January 1920, to coordinate the work of divisions engaged in accounting transactions and the deposit of public funds throughout the country. Responsibility of the Division of Public Moneys for covering revenues and repayments into the Treasury, issuing duplicate checks and warrants, certifying outstanding liabilities for payment, and handling special accounts of the Secretary of the Treasury, assigned to OCAD, 1921. OCAD superseded by Bureau of Accounts, 1940. See 39.1.

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39.2.1 Records relating to government agencies

Textual Records: Appropriation and transfer warrants, 1794-1945. Appropriation ledgers, 1790-1945. Registers of pay, repay, counter, and covering warrants, 1814-1945. Indexes to pay warrants, 1861-1919.

The following agencies are represented in the records: Department of Agriculture; Department of Commerce; Customs Service, including Marine Hospitals; District of Columbia; Emergency Relief Administration; Department of the Interior, including Indian affairs and public lands; Internal Revenue Service; Department of Justice; Department of Labor; Lend-Lease Administration; Department of the Navy; Department of State; Department of the Treasury, including public buildings and public debt; and War Department.

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39.2.2 Records of the Pension Fund

Textual Records: Ledger of accounts of the pension agent, depository at Louisville, KY, 1860-64. Register of pension moneys deposited with the Assistant Treasurer at New York, NY, 1891- 1902. Journal of Navy Pension Fund accounts, 1798-1830. Register of investments for the Navy Pension Fund, 1807-29. Journal of payments from the Privateer Pension Fund, 1813-30. Record book of army pensioners and of activities of the Santa Fe Gazette Joint Stock Company, 1858-69.

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39.2.3 Other records

Textual Records: Letters, 1775-77, and copies of records relating to the settlement of accounts of Silas Deane, 1777-1835. Records and publications relating to receipts and expenditures of the government and to the public debt, 1777-1936. Account ledgers of Robert Morris and Joseph Nourse as Superintendents of Finance, 1779-89. Registers of claims paid under relief and appropriation acts, including the Alabama claims; the French, Neapolitan, Mexican, and Peruvian indemnities; and private claims, 1789-1912. Records relating to the direct tax, 1813-21. Records relating to the settlement of claims with foreign countries, 1835-86. Scrapbook of Confederate currency, 1864. Records relating to financing of railroads, 1865-1928. Ledger relating to the Panama Canal, 1899-1916. Correspondence on fiscal relations with other countries ("Individual Foreign Country Files"), 1902-56. Central files relating to United States and foreign relations, 1912-56. Receipts and Expenditures of the United States, 1889-1973 (62 vols.).

Microfilm Publications: M1004.

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39.3 Records Relating to Disbursements
1865-1935, 1959-65

History: Disbursing agents designated in federal agencies beginning in 1789. Appointment by department heads of bonded disbursing clerks from regular clerical forces authorized, 1853. Office of Disbursing Clerk established in Treasury Department by act of June 17, 1910 (36 Stat. 468), to consolidate departmental disbursing activities, except for Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Disbursement functions for all government agencies transferred by EO 6166, June 10, 1933, to newly created Division of Disbursement, Bureau of Accounts, which absorbed the functions and records of the Office of Disbursing Clerk.

Textual Records: Letters received, 1865-1910. Register of letters answered and referred, 1906-12. Letters sent, 1910-12. Appropriation ledgers, 1911-27. Cashbooks, 1906-10. Ledgers of accounts, 1906-18. Registers of payroll and advances, 1897-99, 1910-16. Certificates of deposit, 1917-35. Correspondence of the regional disbursing officer, Kansas City, MO, Disbursing Center, 1959-65 (in Kansas City).

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39.4 Records Relating to Alien Property
1898-1939

History: Responsibility for funds deposited with Alien Property Custodian assigned to OCAD from Division of Public Moneys, 1921.

Textual Records: Reports and correspondence, 1917-37. Records relating to suits, 1921-39. Registers of enemy alien property seized, 1917-26. Case files of settled enemy alien trust fund claims, 1918-34, with card files of closed accounts. Fiscal records of German companies, 1898-1903.

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39.5 Records Relating to Depositories of Public Moneys
1832-1920

Textual Records: Form letters to depositories relating to settlement of interest accounts, 1836-37. Ledgers of moneys received by depositories, 1869-1919. Registers of national bank covering warrants, 1874-1920; and deposits made in national banks, 1862-72. Registers of miscellaneous accounts of depositories, 1863-68; and regular accounts, 1865-75, 1904-7. Accounts current of the depository at Buffalo, NY, 1870-76. Cashbooks, 1870-76, and daily statements of assets and liabilities at the Buffalo depository, 1876. Letters of the assistant treasurer at Charleston, SC, 1866-76. Fiscal records of the depositories at Charleston, 1865-76; Louisville, KY, 1861-74; Santa Fe, NM, 1862- 76; Tucson, AZ, 1870-81; Pittsburgh, PA, 1847-76; Mobile, AL, 1866-73; and Olympia, WA, 1862-72. Receipts and accounts current, 1856-72; and a ledger of receipts and expenditures, 1867-68, at the Oregon City, OR, depository. Accounts current of the depository at St. Paul, MN, 1863-68.

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39.6 Records Relating to Special Accounts
1879-1941

History: Responsibility for special accounts assigned to OCAD from Division of Public Moneys, 1921.

Textual Records: Ledgers and receipts in compromise offers, 1879- 1940. Registers of deposits in Special Account No. 1, 1908-41, with index, 1909-17. Register of, and register of deposits to, Special Account No. 5 (offers in compromise), 1900-17. Ledger of national bank accounts, 1891-1912.

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39.7 Records Relating to Surety Bonds
1789-1925

History: Responsibility for administering surety (fidelity) bonds required of certain Federal Government employees decentralized from 1789 until consolidated in Surety Bonds Section, Division of Appointments, Department of the Treasury, effective July 1, 1895, by omnibus appropriation act (28 Stat. 807), March 2, 1895. Removed from Division of Appointments and assigned to Office of the Secretary, June 19, 1911. Restored to Division of Appointments, effective July 1, 1921, by omnibus appropriation act (41 Stat. 1266), March 3, 1921. Transferred to OCAD, July 17, 1931.

Related responsibility for regulating surety bond companies vested in a surety bond section, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, by an act of August 13, 1894 (28 Stat. 279). Function transferred to Office of the Secretary of the Treasury by an act of March 23, 1910 (36. Stat. 241), and consolidated with existing Surety Bond Section, Division of Appointments.

Textual Records: Surety bonds of officials responsible for the collection and disbursement of public funds, 1789-1915, with index.

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39.8 Records Relating to Federal Savings and Loan Associations
1933-48

History: OCAD assigned original responsibility for supervising the government purchase of shares in Federal Savings and Loan Associations, as provided in the Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 (47 Stat. 726), July 22, 1932.

Textual Records: Closed case files of subscriptions of Federal Savings and Loan shares, 1933-48.

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39.9 Motion Pictures (General)
1940

The President Accounts, describing the Emergency Relief Program, 1934-40, and the bureau accounting system (1 reel).


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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