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2020

Legislative Records

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The Southern Claims Commission was established in 1871 under the Act of March 3, 1871 to settle the claims of Southerners who remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and who provided stores and supplies to the Union military.

 

The Commission received 22,298 claims for over $60 million dollars in damages towards which about $4.6 million was paid. These records, consisting of detailed questionnaires and affidavits from neighbors and friends, provide valuable genealogical information and a wealth of detail about the lives of southerners in the 1860's and 1870's.

 

The Center for Legislative Archives holds the barred or disallowed case files of the Southern Claims Commission -- that is, ones in which the Government made no payment -- among the records of the U.S. House of Representatives. Claims were barred if they were submitted after the Commission’s deadline. Disallowed claims were those claims the Commission denied.

 

The disallowed case files are arranged by report number and thereunder by the docket number within the report (called the “office”). Barred case files are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the claimant.

 

Researchers interested in finding an individual claim should consult the Consolidated Index of Claims Reported by the Commissioners of Claims to the House of Representatives from 1871-1880, which is arranged alphabetically by the surname of those persons who filed claims before the Commission. The Consolidated Index gives the office and report numbers, the amount claimed, amount received, a brief description of the property involved, and whether the case was barred.

 

The Southern Claims Commission involved a number of different governmental offices in the settlement process, so the records of the Commission are divided among several record groups. Only the barred and disallowed case files are in Record Group 233 -- Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

The case files for the allowed claims are in Record Group 217 -- Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury. The administrative records and correspondence files of the Commission are in Record Group 56 -- General Records of the Department of the Treasury.

 

Additionally, Congress passed the Bowman Act of 1883 and the Tucker Act of 1887, which provided for further adjudication of some disallowed cases by the Court of Claims. As a result, some of the disallowed case files can be found in Record Group 123 -- Records of the United States Court of Claims.

 

For assistance with barred and disallowed case files, you can email us at legislative.archives@nara.gov. For assistance with the allowed case files or records from the Court of Claims you can email archives1reference@nara.gov. And lastly, for assistance with general administration records of the Southern Claims Commission you can email archives2reference@nara.gov.

 

The allowed, barred and disallowed claims are also available through Ancestry.

The Constitution of the United States, in Article II, section 2, tasks the U.S. Senate with providing advice and consent for presidential nominations to a variety of federal offices, the federal judicial courts, and diplomatic personnel.

 

Senate records pertaining to executive nomination are held by the Center for Legislative Archives. These records are highlighted in a fantastic article by John P. Deeben in Prologue, a magazine published by the National Archives, titled: “Serving at the Pleasure of the President: The Nomination Papers of the United States Senate, 1789-1946.”

 

A quick overview: nomination records can vary considerably from nominee to nominee and are composed of a wide assortment of documents, including correspondence, both for and against the nominee, from individuals, the administration, and executive departments; affidavits and petitions; blue slips; resumes; committee vote tallies; hearing transcripts; newspaper clippings; and other record types.

 

From 1789 to 1946, nomination papers were organized chronologically by Congress, then alphabetically by name of nominee. Starting in 1947, nomination papers were arranged by the committee to which the nomination was referred.

 

A finding aid, Papers of the U.S. Senate relating to Presidential Nominations, 1789-1901, lists all the individuals with Senate nomination records through the 56th Congress. A supplemental publication covers 1901 to 1946.

 

A good starting point for researching nominations is the Senate Executive Journal -- a record of Senate proceedings relating to its functions of confirming presidential nominees and ratifying treaties. The Executive Journal will include the date of a nomination, the committee to which the nomination was referred, and record of any Senate action taken.

 

The Executive Journal for the 1st through 43rd Congresses is available online through A Century of Lawmaking. Additional years can be found freely available online through sources like Hathi Trust. It’s also available through subscription databases like HeinOnline, and in print through a local library or a regional Federal Depository Library.

 

Want to learn more about the nomination process? The Senate Historical Office has prepared a detailed historical overview. Or do you need assistance in finding nomination records? We’re happy to help -- send us an email at legislative.archives@nara.gov. Please note that all nomination files are closed until they are 50 years old.