About the Collection
The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was established by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 and existed from 1946 to 1977. It was created to "make continuing studies of the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and of problems relating to the development, use, and control of atomic energy." Through hearings and other public informational activities, the committee played a significant role in encouraging peaceful uses of atomic energy.
The committee dealt with such subjects as the budget authorization bills for the Atomic Energy Commission, international agreements regarding atomic energy stemming from President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Atoms-For-Peace" speech of December 1953, and various mutual defense agreements. Examples of other matters the Joint Committee covered include: developments at the national energy labs; health impacts of nuclear energy; and nuclear waste-management.
This collection of published committee hearings and prints includes policy as well some limited technical information. Included in this extensive collection are statistics from various sources, folding maps and charts, photographs, bibliographies, selective indexes, periodical and journal article reprints and selections of various government and public report. Selective reprints of congressional bills and public laws are included. The publications are fully indexed in the online database Congressional Universe (available to subscribers including many libraries at http://web.lexis-nexis.com/congcomp) and in various printed indexes available in depository libraries such as the Monthly Catalog of US Government Publications.
The committee's hearings or transcripts record the witness's oral and print statements, questions, and answers of members and witnesses, and are considered the official committee proceedings. The witnesses include experts such as a nuclear scientist or agency head as well as those outside of government but concerned about health related subjects, funding priorities, etc. Because of the knowledge and policy views of the witnesses as well as the various atomic energy topics included, these documents serve both as an historic record of United States government public policy-making and as a valuable source for subject research.
Topics included are annual authorizing legislation documents and budget priorities for the committee; program reviews; proposals for amending existing legislation; proposals for uses of atomic energy for peace and military; health and safety issues and civil defense plans involving local governments; technical and background information on the hydrogen bomb and its international control; and investigations of various contracts like those in Hanford Washington, Oak Ridge Tennessee, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator on the Stanford University campus.
The committee prints are documents requested by the committee members for their own information in order to legislate and include regularly updated reports and special reports on subjects. These include draft legislation, bills and proposed amendments to laws; atomic energy legislation introduced in each congress, memberships and publications for each congress; background reports.
Special reports and background information publications include health and nuclear energy; oversights on food irradiation programs; international and US licensing standards; nuclear waste disposal standards; high energy physics programs; reports on use and management of AEC laboratories; and reports from the Panel on the Impact of the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.