PI #105 compiled by Nathan Reingold (Washington: 1958).


Personnel of the U.S. Coast Survey cooperated with the Smithsonian Meteorological Project in the mid-nineteenth century. In addition to taking meteorological observations (see RG-27), Coast Survey calculators converted Arnold Guyot's meteorological tables from French to American scales. A meteorological and magnetic observatory was set up in 1854 near the southeast corner of the Castle at the joint expense of the Coast Survey, which furnished the magnetic instruments, and the Smithsonian, which provided the building. The results were intended to provide a calibration standard for observations made by the western surveys and at over sixty remote Coast Survey stations. Coast Survey director Bache reported to the American Association in 1857 on the winds of the western coast of the United States from observations taken at three permanent Coast Survey locations: Astoria, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Charles A. Schott, an employee of the Coast Survey, examined the data gathered by three exploring expeditions into Arctic regions (Elisha K. Kane, 1853, 1854, 1855; Sir Francis M'Clintock, 1857, 1858, 1859; and Isaac Hayes, 1860, 1861) and published the results in the Smithsonian Contributions. Between 1868 and 1874, Schott prepared two innovative monographs, with maps, on the rainfall and temperature of the United States using records gathered by the Smithsonian, the Army Medical Department, the Lake Survey, the Coast Survey, the States of New York and Pennsylvania, and other sources extending back into the eighteenth century. He also investigated the question of short-term climatic change.

Related material is found in RG-27, Records of the U.S. Weather Bureau. Cf. NC-3 (Revision): Appendix II, "List of Locations, With Dates Covered by Coast Survey Notebooks, 1843-90," in Preliminary Inventory of Operational and Miscellaneous Meteorological Records of the Weather Bureau, compiled by Helen T. Finneran (Washington, May 1965).

1. LETTERS RECEIVED RELATING TO THE COAST SURVEY. 1832-59, 1861-64. 19 vols. 5 ft.


5. GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE OF ALEXANDER DALLAS BACHE, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE COAST SURVEY. 1844-65. 305 vols. 60 ft. Letters received and sent, reports, memoranda, working papers, drafts, maps, sketches, pamphlets, broadsides, and a few photographs pertaining to Bache's administrative and substantive duties as well as to his unofficial interests and activities.

14. BACHE MANUSCRIPTS OF PUBLICATIONS ON MAGNETISM. 1859-64. 1 vol. 4 in. The original manuscripts of the Discussion of the Magnetic and Meteorological Observations made at the Girard College Observatory, Philadelphia, in 1840 '41 '42 '43 '44 '45, published by the Smithsonian Institution in six installments during the years 1859-65 and in its entirely in 1865, and of the Records and Results of a Magnetic Survey of Pennsylvania and Parts of Adjacent States, published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1863.

36. LETTERS RECEIVED. 1845-1904, 1906-8. 365 vols. and unbound papers. 126 ft.

38. LETTERS SENT. 1850-1908, with gaps. 15 vols. 2 ft.

Records of the Geophysics Division.

99. NONINSTRUMENTAL EARTHQUAKE REPORTS. ca. 1912-35. 24 ft. Clippings, questionnaires, correspondence, and narrative written by or based upon observations of individuals in areas affected by earthquakes. The reports before 1925 were collected by the Weather Bureau and subsequently transferred to the Survey. Data of this nature are used in compiling the publication U.S. Earthquakes. Arranged in rough chronological order.

142. OBSERVATIONS AT MAGNETIC OBSERVATORIES ("MA" SERIES). 1854-1935. 87 ft. Early observatory records are from the District of Columbia, including an 1854 example of photographic tracing of changes in declination. The observations also include records of temperature and humidity.


PI compiled by Forrest R. Holdcamper (Washington, Sept. 1963)


The United States Coast Guard was created in the Department of the Treasury by an act of Congress approved January 28, 1915, which consolidated the Life-Saving and the Revenue-Cutter Services. The Revenue Cutter Service, sometimes referred to as the Revenue-Marine Service, originated in an act of August 4, 1790, which authorized the construction and equipment of cutters to enforce the collection of customs and tonnage duties. The Life-Saving Service, originally functioning on a volunteer basis (but with increasing Federal aid and supervision after 1848), was a part of the Revenue-Cutter Service from 1871 to 1878, when it was organized as a separate unit in the Treasury Department. As early as 1789 the construction and operation of lighthouses were functions of Federal Government. Various officials of the Treasury Department supervised these functions until 1852 when the Light-House Board was organized. This Board was transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, and in 1910 it was superseded by the Bureau of Light-Houses. On July 1, 1939, the Bureau was abolished and the functions of the Light-House Service were transferred from the Commerce Department to the Coast Guard.

By the act of 1915 the United States was Coast Guard constituted a military service and a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States at all times.

The records amount to 10,194 cubic feet, including 154 reels of motion-picture film, 10 sound-recording disks, 45 cubic feet of photographic prints, 308 rolls of microfilm, and 2 cubic feet of cartographic records. The records are described hierarchically by creating unit: the Light-House Service, the Revenue-Cutter Service, the Life-Saving Service, and the United States Coast Guard. Related material is in RG-56, RG-36, RG-41, RG-125 and RG-40.

Records of the Revenue-Cutter Service. 1790-1915, with a few dates as late as 1920. 606 lin. ft. Records relating to Alaskan cruises, 1867-1914, including the Nunivak's ethnological and meteorological studies and collection of botanical and geological data in the Yukon River area in 1899.

Records of the Lifesaving Service. 1847-1915. 880 lin. ft. This Service was established in 1871 in the Revenue-Marine Division of the Treasury Department. It was placed under a general superintendent immediately responsible to the Secretary of the Treasury by an act of June 18, 1878, but its relationship to the Revenue-Cutter Service remained close.

Motion pictures, 1918-55 (84 reels), consist of films relating to the history of the Coast Guard that illustrate peacetime activities, and domestic activities during World War II including taking weather observations.

163: RECORDS OF ASSISTANCE RENDERED. 1886-95. 1 vol. 2 in. Shown are date of assistance; name, rig, and flag of vessel to which assistance was rendered; estimated value of vessel and cargo; number of persons saved; number of persons lost; position of vessel; and nature of assistance. Arranged chronologically. For later records, see entries 166 and 312.

164: LISTS OF WRECKS REPORTED. 1906-13. 2 vols. 4 in. Shown are name of vessel, date of wreck, and location. Arranged chronologically.

165: ABSTRACTS OF WRECK REPORTS. 1894-1907. 4 vols. 8 in. 166: REPORTS OF ASSISTANCE RENDERED. 1903-14.
19 vols. 2 ft. Each report gives name, rig, tonnage, flag, and home port of vessel; date and port of embarkation; number of days at sea; number of crew and passengers; kind of cargo; value of vessel and cargo; address of master; and names of owners and consignees. Each report also gives specific information concerning the casualty such as condition of vessel, date, time of day of casualty, kind of weather, force and direction of wind, tide, exact spot where vessel was found (latitude and longitude), cause name of cutter giving assistance, nature of assistance, number of persons cared for and their names and addresses, provisions used, damage (if any) sustained by cutter, and extent of casualty. The reports were dated and signed by the master of the cutter. Arranged alphabetically by name vessel aided.

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