Series I. Documentary Files
Subseries in Series I
The Documentary Files contain materials on the history of the USDA and agriculture in the United States, including letters, memoranda, press releases, speeches, reports, minutes, charts, statistical tables, printed materials, clippings, and papers and articles by USDA staff and others. Most of the materials are from the 20th century; items of earlier date are generally copies or transcriptions from other sources.
These files formed the backbone of the materials kept by the Agricultural and Rural History Section (ARH), and they comprise the largest series in the USDA History Collection. ARH began assembling this file during World War II, and continued until the office was closed in 1994. (Volunteers made small additions to the files until they were transferred to NAL in 1997.) The files were organized into six chronological groups, each group arranged according to a detailed subject outline.
Many of the materials found here are secondary sources including published reports, clippings, transcriptions and photocopies. However, the Documentary Files also include significant sections of primary materials, including original letters, memoranda, draft reports and tables, and items such as review copies of reports or memos with manuscript comments and corrections. Detailed scope and content notes are included in the sections of this finding aid pertaining to each subseries.
Following the system established by ARH, Series I is organized in six subseries by time period. Each subseries was originally set up to document a certain span of years: the first subseries covers 1914-1939, the second covers 1939-1949, and so on.
However, many items that date either earlier or later than the specific time periods designated have been found in each section. Usually the material pertains to the subject and/or time period of the file and provides background material, or a retrospective view of the topic.
For instance, almost all the material in the Documentary Files pertaining to Henry A. Wallace (Secretary of Agriculture, 1933-1940), is filed in the first subseries, which nominally covers the years 1914-1939. However, many items included there relate to his youth and early career, and others date from later years, up to and even beyond his death in 1965.
Therefore, in describing these subseries, the first set of span dates indicates the actual dates of materials found; the "bulk" dates indicate the time period that each part of the files was intended to cover.Subseries 1. ..................... 1822-1995 (bulk 1914-1939)
Subseries 2. ..................... 1907-1982 (bulk 1939-1949)
Subseries 3. ..................... 1939-1992 (bulk 1949-1956)
Subseries 4. ..................... 1957-1977 (bulk 1957-1977)
Subseries 5. ..................... 1906-1995 (bulk 1977-1988)
Subseries 6. ..................... 1920-1997 (bulk 1989-1994)