Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]


(Record Group 311)
1955-89

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 311.1 Administrative History
  • 311.2 Records of Predecessor Agencies 1956-89
  • 311.3 Records of the Flood Insurance Program (FEMA) 1975-81
  • 311.4 Cartographic Records (General)
  • 311.5 Motion Pictures (General)
  • 311.6 Sound recordings (General)
  • 311.7 Still Pictures (General)1955-86

311.1 Administrative History

Established: As an independent agency by EO 12127, March 31, 1979, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, both effective April 1, 1979, and by EO 12148, July 20, 1979, retroactive to July 15, 1979.

Predecessor Agencies:

Coordination of emergency military, civilian, and industrial mobilization; and general preparedness planning:
  • National Security Resources Board (NSRB, 1947-49)
  • NSRB, Executive Office of the President (EOP, 1949-53)
  • Office of Defense Mobilization (ODM), EOP (1950-53)
  • Defense Production Administration (DPA, 1951-53)
  • Office of Defense Mobilization (ODM), EOP (1953-58)
  • Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization (ODCM), EOP (1958)
  • Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM), EOP (1958-61)
  • Office of Emergency Planning, EOP (1961-68)
  • Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP (1968-73)
  • Office of Preparedness (OP), General Services Administration (GSA, 1973-75) Federal Preparedness Agency (FPA), GSA (1975-79)
Development, operation, and maintenance of emergency telecommunications systems (Emergency Broadcast System, EBS):
  • NSRB, EOP (1951-53)
  • Telecommunications Advisor to the President (TAP), EOP (1951-53) Assistant Director for Telecommunications (ADT), ODM, EOP (1953- 58)
  • ADT, ODCM, EOP (1958)
  • ADT, OCDM, EOP (1958-61)
  • ADT, Office of Emergency Planning, EOP (1961-68)
  • ADT, Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP (1968-70)
  • Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP), EOP (1970-78)
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), EOP (Emergency Broadcast System, EBS, oversight only, 1978-79)
Administration of civil defense programs:
  • Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA), Office for Emergency Management (OEM), EOP (1950-51)
  • FCDA (1951-58)
  • ODCM, EOP (1958)
  • OCDM, EOP (1958-61)
  • Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department of Defense (DOD, 1961-64)
  • OCD, Department of the Army, DOD (1964-72)
  • Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA), DOD (1972-79)
Administration of disaster assistance and insurance programs:
  • ODM, EOP (1953-58)
  • ODCM, EOP (1958)
  • OCDM, EOP (1958-61)
  • Office of Emergency Planning, EOP (1961-68)
  • Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP (1968-73)
  • Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (FDAA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD, 1973-79)
  • Federal Insurance Administration (FIA), HUD (1968-79)
Administration of fire prevention and training programs:
  • National Fire Prevention and Control Administration (NFPCA), Department of Commerce (1974-78)
  • United States Fire Administration (USFA), Department of Commerce (1978-79)
  • National Academy for Fire Prevention and Control (NAFPC), NFPCA, Department of Commerce (1974-78)
  • NAFPC, USFA, Department of Commerce (1978-79)

Functions: Develops and coordinates, through the National Preparedness Directorate, national policy and facilities necessary for the federal government to deliver effective crisis management during periods of national emergency. Administers, through the State and Local Programs and Support Directorate, disaster relief and other emergency support programs to states and localities. Operates and maintains the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). Administers, through the Federal Insurance Administration, the national flood insurance program. Coordinates, through the United States Fire Administration, federal programs in the areas of fire prevention and control. Provides training and education programs at the National Emergency Training Center (National Fire Academy and Emergency Management Institute).

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the Federal Property Resources Service, RG 291.
Records of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, RG 304.
Records of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, RG 396.
Records of the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, RG 397.

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311.2 Records of Predecessor Agencies
1956-89

History:

Coordination of emergency military, civilian, and industrial mobilization; and general preparedness planning:

NSRB established as an independent agency by the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 499), July 26, 1947, to advise the President on mobilization coordination. Transferred to Executive Office of the President by Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1949, effective August 20, 1949. Abolished and functions transferred to ODM by Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1953, effective June 12, 1953.

DPA established by EO 10200, January 3, 1951, to exercise general control of the defense production program. Abolished by EO 10433, February 4, 1953, and functions transferred to ODM.

First ODM established in the EOP by EO 10193, December 16, 1950, to direct federal mobilization activities. Acquired responsibility for disaster relief coordination (SEE BELOW) by EO 10427, January 16, 1953. Absorbed functions of DPA, pursuant to EO 10433, February 4, 1953. Superseded by second ODM, also under EOP, by EO 10461, June 17, 1953, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1953, effective June 12, 1953, which also transferred the functions of NSRB and responsibility for critical materials stockpiling to ODM.

ODM consolidated with FCDA (SEE BELOW) to form ODCM by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, effective July 1, 1958. ODCM administered the national civil defense program and coordinated military, industrial, and civilian mobilization. Redesignated OCDM by an act of August 26, 1958 (72 Stat. 861). Lost civil defense functions to Office of the Secretary of Defense, effective August 1, 1961, by EO 10952, July 20, 1961.

OCDM redesignated Office of Emergency Planning by an act of September 22, 1961 (75 Stat. 630). Office of Emergency Planning coordinated emergency preparedness activities, principally in areas of resource utilization, disaster relief, economic stabilization, postattack rehabilitation, and government organization and continuity. Redesignated Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP, by an act of October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1194). Abolished by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, effective July 1, 1973, with mobilization and general preparedness functions to GSA and disaster relief responsibilities to HUD.

GSA responsibilities for national civil preparedness planning, for state and local participation in preparedness programs, and for emergency national defense industrial mobilization under Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973 vested in Office of Preparedness, established by GSA Order ADM 5440.74A, June 29, 1973. OP consolidated with GSA Office of Stockpile Disposal and redesignated FPA, effective June 29, 1975, by GSA Order ADM 5440.95, June 26, 1975. Stockpile disposal transferred to Federal Property Resources Service (SEE RG 291) by GSA Order ADM 5440.123, July 18, 1978. FPA abolished and functions transferred to FEMA by EO 12148, 1979. SEE 311.1. Under FEMA, the functions of the abolished FPA became the nucleus of the National Preparedness Directorate.

Development, operation, and maintenance of emergency telecommunications systems (Emergency Broadcast System, EBS):

By direction of President Harry S. Truman, September 1951, NSRB undertook to coordinate development of a program for control of electromagnetic radiation-emitting devices in the interest of national security (CONELRAD). Program formally implemented by EO 10312, December 10, 1951, which gave NSRB oversight of program development and of its implementation by federal agencies with broadcast facilities and by Federal Communications Commission, which was assigned responsibility for those aspects relating to privately owned radio stations. First CONELRAD commercial broadcasting plan approved in the autumn of 1952. NSRB program responsibilities under EO 10312 transferred to ODM by EO 10438, March 13, 1953.

TAP established in EOP by EO 10297, October 9, 1951, to assist the President in the formulation of telecommunications policy, and to coordinate interagency planning for utilization of national telecommunications resources during periods of war and national emergency. TAP abolished and functions assigned to ODM by EO 10460, June 16, 1953, where they were vested in newly established position of Assistant Director for Telecommunications, which also assumed responsibility for CONELRAD. ADT continued (under variant titles) in ODM and its successors until position abolished by EO 11556, September 4, 1970, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1970, effective April 20, 1970, with functions assigned to newly established OTP. OTP abolished by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1977 and implementing EO 12046, March 27, 1978, effective retroactive to March 26, 1978, with responsibility for emergency telecommunications functions (EBS) assigned to OSTP. Responsibility for EBS transferred to FEMA by EO 12127, 1979. SEE 311.1. Under FEMA, EBS is a shared responsibility of the National Preparedness Directorate and the State and Local Programs and Support Directorate.

Administration of civil defense programs:

FCDA established in OEM, EOP, by EO 10186, December 1, 1950, to develop a national civil defense program. Made an independent agency by the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 1245), January 12, 1951. Consolidated with ODM to form the ODCM by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, effective July 1, 1958. Civil defense functions subsequently dispersed through ODCM and OCDM. Transferred to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, effective August 1, 1961, by EO 10952, July 20, 1961, and recentralized in OCD, also effective August 1, 1961, by announcement of the Secretary of Defense, July 31, 1961. Functions transferred to Secretary of the Army, effective April 1, 1964, by DOD Directive 5160.50, March 31, 1964, with OCD reestablished under Department of the Army, effective April 1, 1964. OCD abolished and functions vested in newly established DCPA by DOD Directive 5105.43, May 5, 1972. DCPA abolished and functions assigned to FEMA by EO 12148, 1979. SEE 311.1. DCPA and FDAA were consolidated within FEMA to form the State and Local Programs and Support Directorate.

Administration of disaster assistance and insurance programs:

Responsibility for coordination of federal disaster relief efforts under the Federal Disaster Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 1109), September 30, 1950, assigned to ODM by EO 10427, January 16, 1953. Responsibility remained with ODM and successors until abolishment of Office of Emergency Preparedness by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, effective July 1, 1973, and transfer of function to HUD, where it was vested in FDAA. FDAA abolished and functions assigned to FEMA by EO 12148, 1979. SEE 311.1. FDAA and DCPA were consolidated within FEMA to form the State and Local Programs and Support Directorate.

Federal Insurance Administration established in HUD by an act of August 1, 1968 (82 Stat. 567), to administer federal flood, riot, and crime insurance programs. Transferred to FEMA by EO 12127, 1979. SEE 311.1. FIA has retained autonomous status under FEMA.

Administration of fire prevention and training programs:

NFPCA established in the Department of Commerce by the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (88 Stat. 1535), October 29, 1974, to assist states and localities to develop fire prevention and control programs. Redesignated USFA by an act of October 5, 1978 (92 Stat. 932). Transferred to FEMA by EO 12127, 1979. SEE 311.1. USFA has retained autonomous status under FEMA.

NAFPC established in NFPCA, Department of Commerce, pursuant to the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (88 Stat. 1535), October 29, 1974, to develop model training program curriculums for fire service personnel. Transferred to FEMA by EO 12127, 1979. SEE 311.1. NAFPC, redesignated the National Fire Academy, is presently a component, with the Emergency Management Institute (established 1981), of the National Emergency Training Center under FEMA's Office of Training.

Motion Pictures and Video Recordings: Edited motion pictures and video recordings produced or acquired by FEMA and its predecessor agencies, including documentaries, instruction and information films, television programs, and public service announcements relating to civil preparedness, disaster relief, and the effects and dangers of nuclear war and radiation fallout, 1956-89 (215 motion picture reels, 198 videotape cassettes).

Copyright restrictions may apply to items not produced by FEMA or its predecessor agencies.

Sound Recordings: Radio broadcast documentaries, informational programs, and public service announcements and spots relating to federal emergency preparedness, relief operations, and disaster recovery, 1956-70, 1981-85 (129 items).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the National Security Resources Board in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

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311.3 Records of the Flood Insurance Program (FEMA)
1975-81

Maps: Flood prone areas within communities participating in the Flood Insurance Program, used to determine insurance rates ("Flood Elevation Determination Maps," "Flood Insurance Rate Maps," "Flood Hazard Boundary Maps," and "Flood Boundary and Floodway Maps"), with interfiled published studies, 1975-81 (60,000 items).

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311.4 Cartographic Records (General)

See under 311.3.

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311.5 Motion Pictures (General)

See under 311.2.

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311.6 Sound Recordings (General)

See under 311.2.

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311.7 Still Pictures (General)
1955-86

Photographs: The evolution of civil defense preparedness, views of civil defense exhibits, fallout shelters, training in the use of Geiger counters, the aftermath of various natural disasters, views of Cuban refugees during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, and portraits of FEMA directors, 1956-86 (D and M, 1252 images).

Color Slides: Nuclear tests, natural disasters, civil defense posters, organization charts, and views of the Emergency Management Institute and National Fire Academy, 1955-79 (S, 716 images).


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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