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Archives

Collections

The Archives houses a number of collections relating to the history of the institution. The main collection consists of the Central Policy Files of the executive offices, spanning the institution's history from its inception in 1863 up through the present.

 Central Policy Files

The Central Policy Files of the National Academies Archives contain the administrative records of the National Academy of Sciences and its operating arm, the National Research Council, as well as administrative records of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The records in the Central Policy Files encompass operational and program papers documenting the operations and organization of the Academy complex and its study committees. The Academies' activities with international non-governmental scientific unions and organizations are particularly well-represented in the collection.

The documents that make up the Central Policy Files were created and/or received by the institution's Executive Offices in the course of conducting institutional business. The collection therefore only includes institutional, and not personal, papers. The records contained in the Central Policy Files are considered privileged records and are closed to the public for a period of twenty-five years. Many of the records of National Academies study committees are, however, public documents (e.g., the proposal, contract, and report), and are available from the sponsoring agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, current information on committees subject to the requirements of Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act is available to the public through the institution's Public Access Records Office. (More information on the Public Access Records Office can be found here.) Records in the Central Policy Files twenty-five years old and older are open to qualified researchers.

The records in the Central Policy Files are organized according to the NAS Records System, the structure of which follows the organization of the institution at the time the records in question were created. Under this system, the placement of an activity within the collection may change over a period of years, corresponding to changes in the organization of the institution. Beginning with the arrangement of records created in 2000, a modified and streamlined version of the NAS Records System has been in place.

For ease of use, the Central Policy Files are divided into discrete date banks, each of which encompasses a give number of years. Outline finding aids to the Central Policy Files correspond to date banks as they exist in the Archives. Because the Academies' activities are so numerous and varied, it is not possible to give capsule descriptions of each. However, the individual entries in the outlines to the collection should provide a general idea of the scope and subject matter of the activities documented.

Central Policy File Date Banks

1863-1913
1914-1918
1919-1923
1924-1931
1932-1939: Part 1, Part 2
1940-1945: Part 1, Part 2
1946-1949: Part 1, Part 2
1950-1956: Part 1, Part 2
1957-1961: Part 1, Part 2
1962-1965: Part 1, Part 2
1966-1972: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
1973-1974: Part 1, Part 2
1975-1979: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
1980-1981: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
1982-1983: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
1984: Part 1, Part 2
1985-1986: Part 1, Part 2
1987: Part 1, Part 2
1988: Part 1, Part 2

 Division Collections

Shortly after the end of the First World War, the National Research Council was reorganized into two series of divisions, the first concerned with the Research Council's relationships with government and other bodies, and the second representing specific scientific disciplines. The divisions' memberships consisted of nominated representatives of scientific societies and representatives of various government departments. In July of 1943 the two series of divisions were merged.

Although individual divisions were to undergo reorganization and even, in some cases, reduction to committee status or outright abolishment, the Research Council was to retain the divisional structure until 1973, when that structure was supplanted by a structure made up of assemblies and commissions.

The National Academies Archives' divisional holdings are organized into the following separate collections, each containing the correspondence, reports, and meeting minutes of the divisions and their constituent units:

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Anthropology and Psychology from its establishment in 1919 up until its reorganization as the Division of Behavioral Sciences in 1963. The collection is divided into two date spans of 1919-1939 and 1940-1962 and comprises a total volume of approximately 34.3 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Biology and Agriculture from its establishment in 1919 through 1939. The collection spans approximately 7 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Earth Sciences from 1952-1974. The collection spans approximately 4 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Educational Relations from its establishment in 1919 through its discharge in 1943. The collection spans approximately 1.75 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Engineering for the years 1966-1971. The collection spans approximately 10 linear feet.

  • Engineering and Industrial Research, 1940-1965

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Engineering and Industrial Research for the years 1940 through 1965, after which the unit was renamed the Division of Engineering. The collection spans approximately 20 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Foreign Relations from its establishment in 1919 through 1939. The collection spans approximately 23 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Mathematics for the years 1951-1966. The collection spans approximately 1.3 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Medical Sciences for the years 1946-1973. The collection spans approximately 50 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of Physical Sciences from its establishment in 1919 through 1974. The collection is divided into two separately indexed date spans of 1919-1939 and 1940-1974 and comprises a total volume of approximately 13 linear feet.

This collection contains the records of the activities of the Division of States Relations from its establishment in 1919 through its discontinuation in 1937. The collection spans approximately 3.75 linear feet.

 Organized Collections

The Archives contains a number of collections of the records of various program units and Academies activities:

Advisory Committees to the Surgeons General of the War and Navy Departments and U.S. Public Health Service
American Geophysical Union, 1919-1965
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, 1945-1982
Board on Medicine, 1967-1970
Committee for Research in Problems of Sex, 1920-1965
Committee on Atmospheric Sciences, 1959-1983
Committee on Aviation Medicine, 1940-1945
Committee on Battery Additives, 1931-1969
Committee on Human Reproduction, 1946-1952
Committee on Passive Protection against Bombing, 1940-1944
Committee on Polar Research, 1961-1966
Committee on Radio Frequency Requirements for Scientific Research, 1961-1974
Committee on Research in Endocrinology, 1936-1952
Committee on Vision, 1944-1973
Committees on Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation, 1954-1964
Committees on Biological Warfare, 1941-1948
Committees on Drug Addiction, 1928-1965
Drug Efficacy Study, 1966-1969
International Biological Program, 1964-1974
International Geophysical Year
NAE Establishment, 1965-1970
Project Mohole
Science Advisory Board (and related), 1925-1941
Space Science Board, 1958-1974
Transportation Research Study, 1960
Vannevar Bush Papers

The Archives also maintains a limited collection of photographs relating to the institution's history.

 

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