National Archives | RG 56

RG 56

 Entries 1-50 | Entries 51-100 | Entries 101-150 | Entries 151-200 |  Entries 201-250 | Entries 251-300


Although the beginnings of the Treasury Department can be traced back to the appointment by the First Continental Congress of a standing committee to superintend the treasury, the Department Of The Treasury, under the Constitution, was created by an act of September 2, 1789 ( 1 Stat. 65). This act, which remains the Department's operating authority, provides for the appointment of a Secretary of the Treasury as head of the Department, a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Register, and an Assistant to the Secretary.

The duties assigned to the Secretary were to prepare and implement plans for the improvement in management of the revenue and for the support of the public credit, to prepare and report estimates of public revenues and expenditures, to superintend the collection of the revenue, to devise forms for keeping and stating accounts and making returns, to grant under certain established limitations all wards for monies issued from the Treasury, to execute such services relating to the sale of public lands as may be required of him, to report to either branch of the Congress in person or in writing on all matters referred to him by those bodies or which appertain to his office, and to perform all such services relating to the public finances as he is directed.

Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, took office on September 11, 1789. He organized, coordinated, and expanded the work of the customs collectors, established a stable central banking system, and provided protection for the revenue and credit of the country. The basic structure devised by Hamilton still prevails in the Department today The Secretary and the Treasurer retain their original positions. Duties originally assigned to the Comptroller and the auditor That are now vested in the US General Accounting Office, however, and some of the duties charged to the Register are in the Bureau of Accounts, the Bureau of Public Debt, and other departments. The position of Assistant to the Secretary was abolished by an act of May 8, 1792, although it was restored March 3, 1849 ( 9 Stat. 395).

At the present time, the Department Of The Treasury is headed by the Secretary of the Treasury who is assisted by a Deputy Secretary, an Undersecretary of Monetary Affairs, and an Under Secretary The Deputy Secretary assists the Secretary in the supervision of the Department and acts for him in his absence. The Under Secretary for Monetary Affairs assists the Secretary and Deputy Secretary and all domestic and international financial and economic affairs. He is aided by assistant secretaries for international affairs; trade, energy, and financial resources; economic policy; fiscal activities; and the Treasurer of the United States.

The Under Secretary advises and assists the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary in formulating and executing policies and programs relating to tariff administration, law enforcement, departmental management, legislative liaison, coin and currency manufacture, and revenue sharing. In these operations he is assisted by the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, Operations, and Tariff Affairs, who is responsible for the US Customs Service, the Bureau of the Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms The Assistant Secretary for Administration directs the works of the Offices of Administrative Programs, Budget and Finance, Audit, Computer Science, Management and Organization, Personnel, and Equal Opportunity Program The Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy directs the work of the Offices of Tax Analysis, Tax Legislation, Tax Legislative Council, International Tax Counsel, and Industrial Economics The Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy reports directly to the Secretary, as do the Comptroller of the Currency, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and the General Counsel. The latter is responsible for the Legal Division of the Department and for the operation of the Director of Practice.

Many agencies with the non-fiscal functions have formally been administrative units of the Treasury Department. These include the General Land Office, which was transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849; the Solicitor of the Treasury, transferred to the Department of Justice in 1870; the Lighthouse Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, the Bureau of Navigation, the Bureau of Immigration, the National Bureau of Standards, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Bureau of Statistics, all transferred to the Department Of Commerce and Labor in 1903; the Public Health Service, transferred to the Federal Security Agency in 1939; the Federal Alcohol Administration, abolished June 20, 1940; the US Coast Guard, transferred to the Department of Transportation in 1967; and the Bureau of Narcotics, transferred to the Department of Justice in 1968. Non-fiscal agency's remaining in the Treasury Department include the US Secret Service and the US savings bonds division.

The records described in this inventory consists of those in the National Archives of the United States as of June 30, 1974, that originated in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury and its subdivisions and those of smaller units performing services for the Department as a whole. They are designated General Records of the Department Of The Treasury, Record Group 56, and measure 4275 ft.³, including non-textual records.

The records of the Department's current bureaus and other major units may be found in Records of the Bureau of Customs, Record Group 36; Records of the Bureau of Accounts (Treasury), Record Group 39; Records of the Treasurer of the United States, Record Group 50; Records of the Bureau of the Public Debt, Record Group 53; Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Record Group 58; Records of the US Secret Service, Record Group 87; Records of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Record Group 101; Records of the Bureau of the Mint, Record Group 104; and Records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Record Group 318. Records formerly part of the General Records of the Department of the Treasury but now constituting separate record groups are Treasury Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 365, and Records of Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department, Record Group 366.

Related records of the pre-Federal period are in Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, Record Group 360. Records of legislation pertinent to fiscal affairs and other Treasury matters are in Records of the US House Of Representatives, Record Group 233, and Records of the U.S. Senate, Record Group 46. More recent records of estimates of Government receipts and expenditures are in Records of the Bureau of the Budget, Record Group 51.

The national archives and records service (NARS) has published preliminary inventories describing the records in Record Groups 53, 87, 104, at 365. Finding aids written for internal use covering most of the other pertinent record groups are also available on request.

Organization of the Inventory

This inventory is divided into three parts. Part one describes the correspondence of the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1789-1912, that was maintained according to a registry system; the central correspondence files of the Office of the Secretary, 1917-56; and the special correspondence files kept in the offices of some of the Secretaries, Undersecretaries, and Assistant Secretaries, 1931-65. Part two describes the records created in the administrative divisions of the Secretary's Office that date from the reorganization of 1869. Part three describes the records of the Chief Clerk, including the ones maintained in the office relating to the Government's participation in various international and domestic expositions.

For the period 1913-17, many letters signed by the Secretary of the Treasury and his assistants will be found filed at the current bureau level (see the record groups cited above) or among the personal papers of Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo in the Library of Congress or the Library of the University Of California, Los Angeles. A fire in the Treasury Department on March 30 1, 1833, destroyed many of the Department's records. thus, many series of correspondence state from 1833 only. A generally successful effort, however, was made to secure from field agencies copies of many of the significant letters received or sent that were lost; where ever these copies appear in its inventory, their origin is noted

This inventory was compiled by Carmelita Ryan and was completed and revised by Hope K. hold camper. Gaiselle Kerner, a former NARS staff member, prepared series titles for many of the entries. The descriptions of maps and audiovisual materials were supplied by the Cartographic and the Audiovisual Archives Division, respectively.


 Entries 1-50 | Entries 51-100 | Entries 101-150 | Entries 151-200 |  Entries 201-250 | Entries 251-300

National Archives | RG 56

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